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THE  UNIVERSITY 
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PRESENTED  BY 

MRS.    ALFRz^D  W.    INGALLS 


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ComeDie  Ibumaine 


THE  MOONSTONE 


BY 

WILKIE  COLLINS 


ComeMe  Ibumainc 

Masterpieces  of  the  great 
English  novelists  in  which 
are  portrayed  the  varying 
aspects  of  English  life  from 
the  time  of  Addison  to  the 
present  day:  a  series  anal- 
ogous to  that  in  which 
Balzac  depicted  the  man- 
ners and  morals  of  his 
French  contemporaries. 


"  Clear  the  loom 


^be  JBwQUeb  ComcDic  Ibumatne 


THE    MOONSTONE 


BY 


WILKIE    COLLINS 


^n*>v>  «;^  i'»mff 


NEW  YORK 

Zhc  Century  Co. 

1906 


Copyright,  1903,  by 
The  Century  Co. 


Published,  October,  iq03 


PUBLISHERS'  NOTE 

The  literary  career  of  William  Wilkie  Collins  (born  in  1824)  coin- 
cides very  nearly  with  the  second  half  of  the  nineteenth  cen- 
tury. His  first  novel,  "  Antonina,  "  was  published  in  1850,  and 
from  that  date  until  his  death  in  1889  his  stories  followed  one 
another  in  uninterrupted  succession.  The  list  of  his  more  im- 
portant publications,  including  several  volumes  of  short  stories, 
comprises  twenty-seven  titles.  His  life,  which  was  uneventful,  was 
passed  in  his  birthplace,  London,  with  the  exception  of  several 
periods  of  travel,  one  of  which  (1873-4)  was  spent  in  the  United 
States. 

As  a  novelist  Collins  occupies  a  position  below  that  of  his  great 
contemporaries,  Dickens,  Thackeray,  and  George  Eliot;  nor  can 
he  be  placed  on  a  level  with  Trollope,  if  subtle  delineation  of 
character  and  felicity  of  style  alone  are  considered.  But  h'5  works 
possess  qualities  of  their  own  which  secured  for  them  a  vast  num- 
ber of  delighted  readers  while  he  lived,  and  will  give  them  a  high 
and  permanent  place  in  the  history  of  English  fiction.  In  the 
masterly  development  of  plots  and  the  construction  and  compo- 
sition of  incidents  and  effects  he  is  without  a  rival.  The  readers 
of  this  volume  will  understand  and  agree  with  Mr.  Swinburne 
when  he  says  of  another  of  his  tales,  "  Dickens  never  wrote  and 
Thackeray  never  tried  to  write  a  story  so  excellent  in  construction 
and  so  persistent  in  its  hold  on  the  reader's  curiosity — a  curiosity 
amounting,  in  the  case  of  the  younger  and  more  impressible 
readers,  to  absolute  anxiety."  This  is  high  praise  from  a  master 
of  criticism,  but  not  too  high.  He  was,  moreover,  not  only  a  great 
story-teller,  but  also  a  literary  artist  of  no  mean  ability.  If  the 
portraits  which  he  drew  lack  some  of  the  highest  qualities,  they 
are  certainly  executed  with  fidelity  and  sincerity;  they  are— to 
quote  Swinburne  again — "  works  of  art  as  true  as  his  godfather's 
[David  Wilkie's]  pictures,  and  in  their  own  line  as  complete." 
"  The  Moonstone,"  perhaps  his  most  popular  novel,  was  published 
in  1868. 


THE    MOONSTONE 


THE  MOONSTONE 


PROLOGUE 

THE  STORMING  OF  SERINGAPATAM  (1799). 

(Extracted Jrom  a  Family  Paper.) 


I. 


I  ADDRESS  these  lines — written  in  India — to  my  relatives 
in  England. 

My  object  is  to  explain  the  motive  which  has  induced  me 
to  refuse  the  right  hand  of  friendship  to  my  cousin,  John 
Herncastle.  The  reserve  which  I  have  hitherto  maintained 
in  this  matter  has  been  misinterpreted  by  members  of  my 
family  whose  good  opinion  I  can  not  consent  to  forfeit.  I 
request  them  to  suspend  their  decision  until  they  have  read 
my  narrative.  And  I  declare,  on  my  word  of  honor,  that 
vv^hat  I  am  now  about  to  write  is,  strictly  and  literally,  the 
truth. 

The  private  difference  between  my  cousin  and  me  took  its 
rise  in  a  great  public  event  in  which  we  were  both  concerned 
— the  storming  of  Seringapatam,  under  General  Baird,  on  the 
4th  of  May,  1799. 

In  order  that  the  circumstances  may  be  clearly  understood, 
I  must  revert  for  a  moment  to  the  period  before  the  assault, 
and  to  the  stories  current  in  our  camp  of  the  treasure  in  jew- 
els and  gold  stored  up  in  the  Palace  of  Seringapatam. 


II. 


One  of  the  wildest  of  these  stories  related  to  a  Yellow  Dia- 
mond— a  famous  gem  in  the  native  annals  of  India. 

The  earliest  known  traditions  describe  the  stone  as  having- 


THE  MOONSTONE 

been  set  in  the  forehead  of  the  four-handed  Indian  god  who 
typifies  the  Moon.  Partly  from  its  pecuHar  color,  partly 
from  a  superstition  which  represented  it  as  partaking  of  the 
nature  of  the  deity  whom  it  adorned,  and  growing  and  lessen- 
ing in  lustre  with  the  waxing  and  waning  of  the  moon,  it 
first  gained  the  name  by  which  it  continues  to  be  known  in 
India  to  this  day — the  name  of  The  Moonstone.  A  similar 
superstition  was  once  prevalent,  as  I  have  heard,  in  ancient 
Greece  and  Rome;  not  applying,  however  (as  in  India),  to  a 
diamond  devoted  to  the  service  of  a  god,  but  to  a  semi- 
transparent  stone  of  the  inferior  order  of  gems,  supposed  to 
be  affected  by  the  lunar  influences — the  moon,  in  this  latter 
case  also,  giving  the  name  by  which  the  stone  is  still  known 
to  collectors  in  our  own  time. 

The  adventures  of  the  Yellow  Diamond  begin  with  the 
eleventh  century  of  the  Christian  era.  At  that  date  the  Mo- 
hammedan conqueror,  Mahmud  of  Ghazni,  crossed  India ; 
seized  on  the  holy  city  of  Somnath ;  and  stripped  of  its  trea- 
sures the  famous  temple  which  had  stood  for  centuries — the 
shrine  of  Hindoo  pilgrimage,  and  the  wonder  of  the  Eastern 
world. 

Of  all  the  deities  worshiped  in  the  temple,  the  moon-god 
alone  escaped  the  rapacity  of  the  conquering  Mohammedans. 
Preserved  by  three  Brahmans,  the  inviolate  deity,  bearing 
the  Yellow  Diamond  in  its  forehead,  was  removed  by  night, 
and  was  transported  to  the  second  of  the  sacred  cities  of  India 
— the  city  of  Benares. 

Here,  in  a  new  shrine — in  a  hall  inlaid  with  precious 
stones,  under  a  roof  supported  by  pillars  of  gold — the  moon- 
god  was  set  up  and  worshiped.  Here,  on  the  night  when 
the  shrine  was  completed,  Vishnu  the  Preserver  appeared  to 
the  three  Brahmans  in  a  dream. 

The  deity  breathed  the  breath  of  his  divinity  on  the  Dia- 
mond in  the  forehead  of  the  god.  And  the  Brahmans  knelt 
and  hid  their  faces  in  their  robes.  The  deity  commanded 
that  the  Moonstone  should  be  watched,  from  that  time  forth, 
by  three  priests  in  turn,  night  and  day,  to  the  end  of  the 
generations  of  men.  And  the  Brahmans  heard  and  bowed 
before  his  will.  The  deity  predicted  certain  disaster  to  the 
presumptuous  mortal  who  laid  hands  on  the  sacred  gem,  and 

4 


THE  MOONSTONE 

to  all  of  his  house  and  name  who  received  it  after  him.  And 
the  Brahnians  caused  the  prophecy  to  be  written  over  the 
gates  of  the  shrine  in  letters  of  gold. 

One  age  followed  another — and  still,  generation  after  gen- 
eration, the  successors  of  the  three  Brahmans  watched  their 
priceless  Moonstone,  night  and  day.  One  age  followed  an- 
other, until  the  first  years  of  the  eighteenth  Christian  century 
saw  the  reign  of  Aurung-Zeb,  Emperor  of  the  Moguls.  At 
his  command  havoc  and  rapine  were  let  loose  once  more 
among  the  temples  of  the  worship  of  Brahmah.  The  shrine 
of  the  four-handed  god  was  polluted  by  the  slaughter  of 
sacred  animals ;  the  images  of  the  deities  were  broken  in 
pieces ;  and  the  Moonstone  was  seized  by  an  officer  of  rank  in 
the  army  of  Aurung-Zeb. 

Powerless  to  recover  their  lost  treasure  by  open  force,  the 
three  guardian  priests  followed  and  watched  it  in  disguise. 
The  generations  succeeded  each  other ;  the  warrior  who  had 
committed  the  sacrilege  perished  miserably;  the  Moonstone 
passed  (carrying  its  curse  with  it)  from  one  lawless  Moham- 
medan hand  to  another;  and  still,  through  all  chances  and 
changes,  the  successors  of  the  three  guardian  priests  kept 
their  watch,  waiting  the  day  when  the  will  of  Vishnu  the 
Preserver  should  restore  to  them  their  sacred  gem.  Time 
rolled  on  from  the  first  to  the  last  years  of  the  eighteenth 
Christian  century.  The  Diamond  fell  into  the  possession  of 
Tippoo,  Sultan  of  Seringapatam,  who  caused  it  to  be  placed 
as  an  ornament  in  the  handle  of  a  dagger,  and  who  com- 
manded it  to  be  kept  among  the  choicest  treasures  of  his 
armory.  Even  then — in  the  palace  of  the  Sultan  himself — the 
three  guardian  priests  still  watched  in  secret.  There  were 
three  officers  of  Tippoo's  household,  strangers  to  the  rest, 
who  had  won  their  master's  confidence  by  conforming,  or 
appearing  to  conform,  to  the  Mussulman  faith ;  and  to  those 
three  men  report  pointed  as  the  three  priests  in  disguise. 


III. 

So,  as  told  in  our  camp,  ran  the  fanciful  story  of  the  Moon- 
stone.    Tt  made  no  serious  impression  on  any  of  us  except 

5 


THE  MOONSTONE 

my  cousin — whose  love  of  the  marvelous  induced  him  to  be- 
lieve it.  On  the  night  before  the  assault  on  Seringapatam 
he  was  absurdly  angry  with  me,  and  with  others,  for  treat- 
ing the  whole  thing  as  a  fable.  A  foolish  wrangle  followed ; 
and  Herncastle's  unlucky  temper  got  the  better  of  him.  He 
declared,  in  his  boastful  way,  that  we  should  see  the  Dia- 
mond on  his  finger  if  the  English  army  took  Seringapatam. 
The  sally  was  saluted  by  a  roar  of  laughter,  and  there,  as  we 
all  thought  that  night,  the  thing  ended. 

Let  me  now  take  you  on  to  the  day  of  the  assault. 

My  cousin  and  I  were  separated  at  the  outset.  I  never 
saw  him  when  we  forded  the  river ;  when  we  planted  the 
English  flag  in  the  first  breach ;  when  we  crossed  the  ditch 
beyond;  and,  fighting  every  inch  of  our  way,  entered  the 
town.  It  was  only  at  dusk,  when  the  place  was  ours,  and 
after  General  Baird  himself  had  found  the  dead  body  of  Tip- 
poo  under  a  heap  of  the  slain,  that  Herncastle  and  I  met. 

We  were  each  attached  to  a  party  sent  out  by  the  general's 
orders  to  prevent  the  plunder  and  confusion  which  followed 
our  conquest.  The  camp-followers  committed  deplorable 
excesses ;  and,  worse  still,  the  soldiers  found  their  way, 
by  an  unguarded  door,  into  the  treasury  of  the  Palace  and 
loaded  themselves  with  gold  and  jewels.  It  was  in  the  court 
outside  the  treasury  that  my  cousin  and  I  met  to  enforce  the 
laws  of  discipline  on  our  own  soldiers.  Herncastle's  fiery 
temper  had  been,  as  I  could  plainly  see,  exasperated  to  a  kind 
of  frenzy  by  the  terrible  slaughter  through  which  we  had 
passed.  He  was  very  unfit,  in  my  opinion,  to  perform  the 
duty  that  had  been  intrusted  to  him. 

There  was  riot  and  confusion  enough  in  the  treasury,  but 
no  violence  that  I  saw.  The  men  (if  I  may  use  such  an  ex- 
pression) disgraced  themselves  good-humoredly.  All  sorts 
of  rough  jests  and  catch-words  were  bandied  about  among 
them ;  and  the  story  of  the  Diamond  turned  up  again  un- 
expectedly, in  the  form  of  a  mischievous  joke.  "Who's  got 
the  Moonstone?"  was  the  rallying  cry  which  perpetually 
caused  the  plundering  as  soon  as  it  was  stopped  in  one  place 
to  break  out  in  another.  While  I  was  still  vainly  trying  to 
establish  order  I  heard  a  frightful  yelling  on  the  other  side 
of  the  court-yard,  and  at  once  ran  toward  the  cries,  in  dread 
of  finding  some  new  outbreak  of  the  pillage  in  that  direction. 

6 


THE  MOONSTONE 

I  got  to  an  open  door,  and  saw  the  bodies  of  two  Indians 
(by  their  dress,  as  I  guessed,  officers  of  the  palace)  lying 
across  the  entrance,  dead. 

A  cry  inside  hurried  me  into  a  room,  which  appeared  to 
serve  as  an  armory.  A  third  Indian,  mortally  wounded,  was 
sinking  at  the  feet  of  a  man  whose  back  was  toward  me.  The 
man  turned  at  the  instant  when  I  came  in,  and  I  saw  John 
Herncastle,  with  a  torch  in  one  hand  and  a  dagger  dripping 
with  blood  in  the  other.  A  stone,  set  like  a  pommel,  in  the 
end  of  the  dagger's  handle,  flashed  in  the  torch-light,  as  he 
turned  on  me,  like  a  gleam  of  fire.  The  dying  Indian  sank 
to  his  knees,  pointed  to  the  dagger  in  Herncastle's  hand,  and 
said,  in  his  native  language :  "The  Moonstone  will  have  its 
vengeance  yet  on  you  and  yours !"  He  spoke  those  words, 
and  fell  dead  on  the  floor. 

Before  I  could  stir  in  the  matter  the  men  who  had  followed 
me  across  the  court-yard  crowded  in.  My  cousin  rushed  to 
meet  them,  like  a  madman.  "Clear  the  room !"  he  shouted 
to  me,  "and  set  a  guard  on  the  door !"  The  men  fell  back  as 
he  threw  himself  on  them  with  his  torch  and  his  dagger.  I 
put  two  sentinels  of  my  own  company,  on  whom  I  could  rely, 
to  keep  the  door.  Through  the  remainder  of  the  night  I  saw 
no  more  of  my  cousin. 

Early  in  the  morning,  the  plunder  still  going  on,  General 
Baird  announced  publicly  by  beat  of  drum  that  any  thief 
detected  in  the  fact,  be  he  whom  he  might,  should  be  hung. 
The  provost  marshal  was  in  attendance  to  prove  that  the 
general  was  in  earnest;  and  in  the  throng  that  followed  the 
proclamation  Herncastle  and  I  met  again. 

He  held  out  his  hand  as  usual,  and,  said,  "Good-morn- 
ing." 

I  waited  before  I  gave  him  my  hand  in  return. 

"Tell  me  first,"  I  said,  "how  the  Indian  in  the  armory  met 
his  death,  and  what  those  last  words  meant  when  he  pointed 
to  the  dagger  in  your  hand." 

"The  Indian  met  his  death,  as  I  suppose,  by  a  mortal 
wound,"  said  Herncastle.  "What  his  last  words  meant  I 
know  no  more  than  you  do." 

I  looked  at  him  narrowly.  His  frenzy  of  the  previous  day 
had  all  calmed  down.  I  determined  to  give  him  another 
chance. 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Is  that  all  you  have  to  tell  me  ?"  I  asked. 

He  answered,  "That  is  all." 

I  turned  my  back  on  him ;  and  we  have  not  spoken  since. 


IV. 


I  BEG  it  to  be  understood  that  what  I  write  here  about 
my  cousin  (unless  some  necessity  should  arise  for  making  it 
public)  is  for  the  information  of  the  family  only.  Herncastle 
has  said  nothing  that  can  justify  me  in  speaking  to  our  com- 
manding officer.  He  has  been  taunted  more  than  once  about 
the  Diamond,  by  those  who  recollect  his  angry  outbreak  be- 
fore the  assault ;  but,  as  may  easily  be  imagined,  his  own  re- 
membrance of  the  circumstances  under  which  I  surprised  him 
in  the  armory  has  been  enough  to  keep  him  silent.  It  is  re- 
ported that  he  means  to  exchange  into  another  regiment, 
avowedly  for  the  purpose  of  separating  himself  and  me. 

Whether  this  be  true  or  not,  I  can  not  prevail  upon  my- 
self to  become  his  accuser — and  I  think  with  good  reason. 
If  I  made  the  matter  public,  I  have  no  evidence  but  moral 
evidence  to  bring  forward.  I  have  not  only  no  proof  that 
he  killed  the  two  men  at  the  door ;  I  can  not  even  declare 
that  he  killed  the  third  man  inside — for  I  can  not  say  that 
my  own  eyes  saw  the  deed  committed.  It  is  true  that  I  heard 
the  dying  Indian's  words ;  but  if  those  words  were  pro- 
nounced to  be  the  ravings  of  delirium,  how  could  I  contra- 
dict the  assertion  from  my  own  knowledge?  Let  our  rela- 
tives, on  either  side,  form  their  own  opinion  on  what  I  have 
written,  and  decide  for  themselves  whether  the  aversion  I 
now  feel  toward  this  man  is  well  or  ill  founded. 

Although  I  attach  no  sort  of  credit  to  the  fantastic  Indian 
legend  of  the  gem,  I  must  acknowledge,  before  I  conclude, 
that  I  am  influenced  by  a  certain  superstition  of  my  own  in 
this  matter.  It  is  my  conviction,  or  my  delusion,  no  matter 
which,  that  crime  brings  its  own  fatality  with  it.  I  am  not 
only  persuaded  of  Herncastle's  guilt ;  I  am  even  fanciful 
enough  to  believe  that  he  will  live  to  regret  it,  if  he  keeps 
the  Diamond;  and  that  others  will  live  to  regret  taking  it 
from  him,  if  he  gives  the  Diamond  away. 

8 


THE    MOONSTONE 


THE  STORY 

FIRST  PERIOD.     LOSS  OF  THE  DIAMOND  (1848) 

The  Events  related  by  Gabriel  Betteredge,  house-steward  in  the 
Service  of  Julia,  Lady  Verinder. 


CHAPTER  I. 

IN  the  first  part  of  Robinson  Crusoe,  at  page  one  hundred 
and  twenty-nine,  you  will  find  it  thus  written : 

"Now  I  saw,  though  too  late,  the  Folly  of  beginning  a 
Work  before  we  count  the  Cost,  and  before  we  judge  rightly 
of  our  own  Strength  to  go  through  with  it." 

Only  yesterday  I  opened  my  Robinson  Crusoe  at  that  place. 
Only  this  morning — May  twenty-first,  eighteen  hundred  and 
fifty — came  my  lady's  nephew,  Mr.  Franklin  Blake,  and  held 
a  short  conversation  with  me,  as  follows : 

"Betteredge,"  says  Mr.  Franklin,  "I  have  been  to  the  law- 
yer's about  some  family  matters;  and,  among  other  things, 
we  have  been  talking  of  the  loss  of  the  Indian  Diamond,  in 
my  aunt's  house  in  Yorkshire,  two  years  since.  The  lawyer 
thinks,  as  I  think,  that  the  whole  story  ought,  in  the  inter- 
ests of  truth,  to  be  placed  on  record  in  writing — and  the 
sooner  the  better." 

Not  perceiving  his  drift  yet,  and  thinking  it  always  de- 
sirable for  the  sake  of  peace  and  quietness  to  be  on  the  law- 
yer's side,  I  said  I  thought  so  too.     Mr.  Franklin  went  on : 

"In  this  matter  of  the  Diamond,"  he  said,  "the  characters 
of  innocent  people  have  suffered  under  suspicion  already — 
as  }'OU  know.  The  memories  of  innocent  people  may  suffer, 
hereafter,  for  want  of  a  record  of  the  facts  to  which  those 
who  come  after  us  can  appeal.  There  can  be  no  doubt  that 
this  strange  family  story  of  ours  ought  to  be  told.     And  I 


THE  MOONSTONE 

think,  Betteredge,  the  lawyer  and  I  together  have  hit  on  the 
right  way  of  telling  it." 

Very  satisfactory  to  both  of  them,  no  doubt.  But  I  failed 
to  see  what  I  myself  had  to  do  with  it,  so  far. 

"We  have  certain  events  to  relate,"  Mr,  Eranklin  pro- 
ceeded ;  "and  we  have  certain  persons  concerned  in  those 
events  who  are  capj^'ole  of  relating  them.  Starting  from  these 
plain  facts,  the  lawyer's  idea  is  that  we  should  all  write  the 
story  of  the  Moonstone  in  turn — as  far  as  our  own  personal 
experience  extends,  and  no  further.  We  must  begin  by  show- 
ing how  the  Diamond  first  fell  into  the  hands  of  my  uncle 
Herncastle,  when  he  was  serving  in  India  fifty  years  since. 
This  prefatory  narrative  I  have  already  got  by  me  in  the 
form  of  an  old  family  paper,  which  relates  the  necessary  par- 
ticvilars  on  the  authority  of  an  eye-witness.  The  next  thing 
to  do  is  to  tell  how  the  Diamond  found  its  way  into  my 
aunt's  house  in  Yorkshire,  two  years  since,  and  how  it  came 
to  be  lost  in  little  more  than  twelve  hours  afterward.  No- 
body knows  as  much  as  you  do,  Betteredge,  about  what  went 
on  in  the  house  at  that  time.  So  you  must  take  the  pen  in 
hand,  and  start  the  story." 

In  those  terms  I  was  informed  of  what  my  personal  con- 
cern was  with  the  matter  of  the  Diamond.  If  you  are  curi- 
ous to  know  what  course  I  took  under  the  circumstances,  I 
beg  to  inform  you  that  I  did  what  you  would  probably  have 
done  in  my  place.  I  modestly  declared  myself  to  be  quite 
unequal  to  the  task  imposed  upon  me — and  I  privately  felt, 
all  the  time,  that  I  was  quite  clever  enough  to  perform  it,  if 
I  only  gave  my  own  abilities  a  fair  chance.  Mr.  Franklin, 
I  imagine,  must  have  seen  my  private  sentiments  in  my  face. 
He  declined  to  believe  in  my  modesty ;  and  he  insisted  on 
giving  my  abilities  a  fair  chance. 

Two  hours  have  passed  since  Mr.  Franklin  left  me.  As 
soon  as  his  back  was  turned  I  went  to  my  writing-desk  to 
start  the  story.  There  I  have  sat  helpless  (in  spite  of  my 
abilities)  ever  since,  seeing  what  Robinson  Crusoe  saw,  as 
quoted  above,  namely :  the  folly  of  beginning  a  work  before 
we  count  the  cost,  and  before  we  judge  rightly  of  our  own 
strength  to  go  through  wdth  it.    Please  to  remember,  I  opened 


THE  MOONSTONE 

the  book  by  accident,  at  that  bit,  only  the  day  before  I  rashly 
undertook  the  business  now  in  hand ;  and,  allow  me  to  ask — 
if  that  isn't  prophecy,  what  is? 

I  am  not  superstitious ;  I  have  read  a  heap  of  books  in  my 
time ;  I  am  a  scholar  in  my  own  way.  Though  turned  sev- 
enty, I  possess  an  active  memory,  and  legs  to  correspond. 
You  are  not  to  take  it,  if  you  please,  as  the  saying  of  an  igno- 
rant man,  when  I  express  my  opinion  that  such  a  book  as 
Robinson  Crusoe  never  was  written,  and  never  will  be  writ- 
ten again.  I  have  tried  that  book  for  years — generally  in 
combination  with  a  pipe  of  tobacco — and  I  have  found  it 
my  friend  in  need  in  all  the  necessities  of  this  mortal  life. 
When  my  spirits  are  bad — Robinson  Crusoe.  When  I  want 
advice — Robinson  Crusoe.  In  past  times,  when  my  wife 
plagued  me ;  in  present  times,  when  I  have  had  a  drop  too 
much — Robinson  Crusoe.  I  have  worn  out  six  stout  Rob- 
inson Crusoes  with  hard  work  in  my  service.  On  my  lady's 
last  birthday  she  gave  me  a  seventh.  I  took  a  drop  too 
much  on  the  strength  of  it ;  and  Robinson  Crusoe  put  me 
right  again.  Price  four  shillings  and  sixpence,  bound  in  blue, 
with  a  picture  into  the  bargain. 

Still,  this  don't  look  much  like  starting  the  story  of  the 
Diamond — does  it?  I  seem  to  be  wandering  off  in  search 
of  Lord  knows  what,  Lord  knows  where.  We  will  take  a 
new  sheet  of  paper,  if  you  please,  and  begin  over  again,  with 
my  best  respects  to  you. 


CHAPTER  H. 


I  SPOKE  of  my  lady  a  line  or  two  back.  Now  the  Dia- 
mond could  never  have  been  in  our  house,  where  it  was 
lost,  if  it  had  not  been  made  a  present  of  to  my  lady's  daugh- 
ter; and  my  lady's  daughter  would  never  have  been  in  exist- 
ence to  have  the  present,  if  it  had  not  been  for  my  lady  who, 
with  pain  and  travail,  produced  her  into  the  world.  Conse- 
quently, if  we  begin  with  my  lady,  we  are  pretty  sure  of  be- 
ginning far  enough  back.     And  that,  let  me  tell  you,  wdien 

13 


THE  MOONSTONE 

you  have  got  such  a  job  as  mine  on  hand,  is  a  real  comfort 
at  starting. 

If  you  know  any  thing  of  the  fashionable  world  you  have 
heard  tell  of  the  three  beautiful  Miss  Herncastles, — Miss 
Adelaide,  Miss  Caroline,  and  Miss  Julia — this  last  being  the 
youngest  and  the  best  of  the  three  sisters,  in  my  opinion ; 
and  I  had  opportunities  of  judging,  as  you  shall  presently 
see.  I  went  into  the  service  of  the  old  lord,  their  father 
(thank  God,  we  have  got  nothing  to  do  with  hhn  in  this 
business  of  the  Diamond ;  he  had  the  longest  tongue  and  the 
shortest  temper  of  any  man,  high  or  low,  I  ever  met  with)  — 
I  say,  I  went  into  the  service  of  the  old  lord,  as  page-boy  in 
waiting  on  the  three  honorable  young  ladies,  at  the  age  of 
fifteen  years.  There  I  lived  till  Miss  Julia  married  the  late 
Sir  John  Verinder.  An  excellent  man,  who  only  wanted 
somebody  to  manage  him ;  and,  between  ourselves,  he  found 
somebody  to  do  it ;  and  what  is  more,  he  throve  on  it,  and 
grew  fat  on  it,  and  lived  happy  and  died  easy  on  it,  dating 
from  the  day  when  my  lady  took  him  to  church  to  be  mar- 
ried to  the  day  when  she  relieved  him  of  his  last  breath  and 
closed  his  eyes  forever. 

I  have  omitted  to  state  that  I  went  with  the  bride  to  the 
bride's  husband's  house  and  lands  down  here.  "Sir  John," 
she  said,  "I  can't  do  without  Gabriel  Betteredge."  "My 
lady,"  says  Sir  John,  "I  can't  do  without  him,  either."  That 
was  his  way  with  her — and  that  was  how  I  went  into  his 
service.  It  was  all  one  to  me  where  I  went,  so  long  as  my 
mistress  and  I  were  together. 

Seeing  that  my  lady  took  an  interest  in  the  out-of-door 
work,  and  the  farms,  and  such  like,  I  took  an  interest  in  them 
too — with  all  the  more  reason  that  I  was  a  small  farmer's 
seventh  son  myself.  My  lady  got  me  put  under  the  bailiff, 
and  I  did  my  best,  and  gave  satisfaction,  and  got  promotion 
accordingly.  Some  years  later,  on  the  Monday  as  it  might 
be,  my  lady  says,  "Sir  John,  your  bailiff  is  a  stupid  old  man. 
Pension  him  liberally,  and  let  Gabriel  Betteredge  have  his 
place."  On  the  Tuesday  as  it  might  be.  Sir  John  says,  "My 
lady,  the  bailiff  is  pensioned  liberally ;  and  Gabriel  Better- 
edge  has  got  his  place."  You  hear  more  than  enough  of 
married  people  living  together  miserably.     Here  is  an  ex- 

14 


THE  MOONSTONE 

ample  to  the  contrary.  Let  it  be  a  warning  to  some  of  you, 
and  an  encouragement  to  others.  In  the  meantime,  I  will 
go  on  with  my  story. 

Well,  there  I  was  in  clover,  you  will  say.  Placed  in  a 
position  of  trust  and  honor,  with  a  little  cottage  of  my  own 
to  live  in,  with  my  rounds  on  the  estate  to  occupy  me  in  the 
morning  and  my  accounts  in  the  afternoon,  and  my  pipe  and 
my  Robinson  Crusoe  in  the  evening — what  more  could  I  pos- 
sibly want  to  make  me  happy?  Remember  what  Adam 
wanted  when  he  was  alone  in  the  Garden  of  Eden ;  and  if  you 
don't  blame  it  in  Adam,  don't  blame  it  in  me. 

The  woman  I  fixed  my  eye  on  was  the  woman  who  kept 
house  for  me  at  my  cottage.  Her  name  was  Selina  Goby. 
I  agree  with  the  late  William  Cobbett  about  picking  a  wife. 
See  that  she  chews  her  food  well  and  sets  her  foot  down  firmly 
on  the  ground  when  she  walks,  and  you're  all  right.  Selina 
Goby  was  all  right  in  both  these  respects,  which  was  one  rea- 
son for  marrying  her.  I  had  another  reason,  likewise,  en- 
tirely of  my  own  discovering.  Selina,  being  a  single  woman, 
made  me  pay  so  much  a  week  for  her  board  and  services. 
Selina,  being  my  wife,  couldn't  charge  for  her  board,  and 
would  have  to  give  me  her  services  for  nothing.  That  was 
the  point  of  view  I  looked  at  it  from.  Economy — with  a  dash 
of  love.  I  put  it  to  my  mistress,  as  in  duty  bound,  just  as  I 
have  put  it  to  myself. 

r    "1  have  been  turning  Selina  Goby  over  in  my  mind,"  I 

I  said,  "and  I  think,  my  lady,  it  will  be  cheaper  to  marry  her 

I  than  to  keep  her," 

^  My  lady  burst  out  laughing,  and  said  she  didn't  know 
which  to  be  most  shocked  at,  my  language  or  my  principles. 
Some  joke  tickled  her,  I  suppose,  of  the  sort  that  you  can't 
take  unless  you  are  a  person  of  quality.  Understanding  noth- 
ing myself  but  that  I  was  free  to  put  it  next  to  Selina,  I  went 
and  put  it  accordingly.  And  what  did  Selina  say  ?  Lord ! 
how  little  you  must  know  of  women,  if  you  ask  that.  Of 
course,  she  said,  "Yes." 

As  my  time  drew  nearer,  and  there  got  to  be  talk  of  my 
having  a  new  coat  for  the  ceremony,  my  mind  began  to  mis- 
give me.  I  have  compared  notes  with  other  men  as  to  what 
they  felt  while  they  were  in  my  interesting  situation ;  and 

15 


THE  MOONSTONE 

they  have  all  acknowledged  that,  about  a  week  before  it  hap- 
pened, they  privately  wished  themselves  out  of  it.  I  went 
a  trifle  further  than  that  myself;  I  actually  rose  up,  as  it 
were,  and  tried  to  get  out  of  it.  Not  for  nothing !  I  was 
too  just  a  man  to  expect  she  would  let  me  off  for  nothing. 
Compensation  to  the  woman  when  the  man  gets  out  of  it  is 
one  of  the  laws  of  England.  In  obedience  to  the  laws,  and 
after  turning  it  over  carefully  in  mind,  I  offered  Selina  Goby 
a  feather-bed  and  fifty  shillings  to  be  off  the  bargain.  You 
will  hardly  believe  it,  but  it  is  nevertheless  true — she  was 
fool  enough  to  refuse. 

After  that  it  was  all  over  with  me,  of  course.  I  got  the 
new  coat  as  cheap  as  I  could,  and  I  went  through  all  the  rest 
of  it  as  cheap  as  I  could.  We  were  not  a  happy  couple,  and 
not  a  miserable  couple.  We  were  six  of  one,  and  half  a 
dozen  of  the  other.  How  it  was,  I  don't  understand ;  but  we 
always  seemed  to  be  getting,  with  the  best  of  motives,  in  one 
another's  way.  When  I  wanted  to  go  up  stairs,  there  was 
my  wife  coming  down ;  or  when  my  wife  wanted  to  go  down, 
there  was  I  coming  up.  That  is  married  life,  according  to  my 
experience  of  it. 

After  five  years  of  misunderstandings  on  the  stairs,  it 
pleased  an  all-wise  Providence  to  relieve  us  of  each  other 
by  taking  my  wife.  I  was  left  with  my  little  girl  Penelope, 
and  with  no  other  child.  Shortly  afterward  Sir  John  died, 
and  my  lady  was  left  with  her  little  girl  Miss  Rachel,  and 
no  other  child.  I  have  written  to  very  poor  purpose  of  my 
lady,  if  you  require  to  be  told  that  my  little  Penelope  was 
taken  care  of  under  my  good  mistress's  own  eye,  and  was 
sent  to  school,  and  taught,  and  made  a  sharp  girl,  and  pro- 
moted, when  old  enough,  to  be  Miss  Rachel's  own  maid. 

As  for  me,  I  went  on  with  my  business  as  bailiff  year  after 
year  up  to  Christmas,  1847,  when  there  came  a  change  in 
my  life.  On  that  day  my  lady  invited  herself  to  a  cup  of 
tea  alone  with  me  in  my  cottage.  She  remarked  that  reck- 
oning from  the  year  when  I  started  as  page-boy  in  the  time 
of  the  old  lord,  I  had  been  more  than  fifty  years  in  her  ser- 
vice, and  she  put  into  my  hands  a  beautiful  waistcoat  of  wool 
that  she  had  worked  herself,  to  keep  me  warm  in  the  bitter 
winter  weather. 

16 


THE  MOONSTONE 

I  received  this  magnificent  present  quite  at  a  loss  to  find 
words  to  thank  my  mistress  with  for  the  honor  she  had  done 
me.  To  my  great  astonishment,  it  turned  out,  however,  that 
the  waistcoat  was  not  an  honor,  but  a  bribe.  My  lady  had 
discovered  that  I  was  getting  old  before  I  had  discovered  it 
myself,  and  she  had  come  to  my  cottage  to  wheedle  me,  if  I 
may  use  such  an  expression,  into  giving  up  my  hard,  out-of- 
door  work  as  bailiff,  and  taking  my  ease  for  the  rest  of  my 
days  as  steward  in  the  house.  I  made  as  good  a  fight  of  it 
against  the  indignity  of  taking  my  ease  as  I  could.  But  my 
mistress  knew  the  weak  side  of  me;  she  put  it  as  a  favor  to 
herself.  The  dispttte  between  us  ended,  after  that,  in  my 
wiping  my  eyes,  like  an  old  fool,  with  my  new  woolen  waist- 
coat, and  saying  I  would  think  about  it. 

The  perturbation  in  my  mind,  in  regard  to  thinking  about 
it,  being  truly  dreadful  after  my  lady  had  gone  away,  I  ap- 
plied the  remedy  which  I  have  never  yet  found  to  fail  me  in 
cases  of  doubt  and  emergency.  I  smoked  a  pipe  and  took  a 
turn  at  Robinson  Crusoe.  Before  I  had  occupied  myself  with 
that  extraordinary  book  five  minutes  I  came  on  a  comforting 
bit  (page  one  hundred  and  fifty-eight),  as  follows:  "To-day 
we  love  what  to-morrow  we  hate."  I  saw  my  way  clear 
directly.  To-day  I  was  all  for  continuing  to  be  farm-bailiff; 
to-morrow,  on  the  authority  of  Robinson  Crusoe,  I  should  be 
all  the  other  way.  Take  myself  to-morrow  while  in  to-mor- 
row's humor,  and  the  thing  was  done.  My  mind  being  re- 
lieved in  this  manner,  I  went  to  sleep  that  night  in  the  char- 
acter of  Lady  Verinder's  farm-bailiff,  and  I  woke  up  next 
morning  in  the  character  of  Lady  Verinder's  hovise-stewardi 
All  quite  comfortable,  and  all  through  Robinson  Crusoe ! 

My  daughter  Penelope  has  just  looked  over  my  shoulder  to 
see  what  I  have  done  so  far.  She  remarks  that  it  is  beau- 
tifully written,  and  every  word  of  it  true.  But  she  points 
out  one  objection.  She  says,  what  I  have  done  so  far  isn't 
in  the  least  what  I  was  wanted  to  do.  I  am  asked  to  tell  the 
story  of  the  Diamond,  and,  instead  of  that,  I  have  been  tell- 
ing the  story  of  my  own  self.  Curious,  and  quite  beyond  me 
to  account  for.  I  wonder  whether  the  gentlemen  who  make 
a  business  and  a  living  out  of  writing  books  ever  find  their 

IT 


THE  MOONSTONE 

own  selves  getting  in  the  way  of  their  subjects  Hke  me?  If 
they  do,  I  can  feel  for  them.  In  the  mean  time,  here  is  an- 
other false  start,  and  more  waste  of  good  writing-paper. 
What's  to  be  done  now  ?  Nothing  that  I  know  of,  except  for 
you  to  keep  your  temper,  and  for  me  to  begin  it  all  over  again 
for  the  third  time. 


CHAPTER  III. 


THE  question  of  how  I  am  to  start  the  story  properly  I 
have  tried  to  settle  in  two  ways.  First,  by  scratching 
my  head,  which  led  to  nothing.  Second,  by  consulting  my 
daughter  Penelope,  which  has  resulted  in  an  entirely  new 
idea. 

Penelope's  notion  is  that  I  should  set  down  what  happened 
regularly  day  by  day,  beginning  with  the  day  when  we  got 
the  news  that  Mr.  Franklin  Blake  was  expected  on  a  visit  to 
the  house.  When  you  come  to  fix  your  memory  with  a  date 
in  this  way,  it  is  wonderful  what  your  memory  will  pick  up 
for  you  upon  that  compulsion.  The  only  difficulty  is  to  fetch 
out  the  dates,  in  the  first  place.  This  Penelope  offers  to  do 
for  me  by  looking  into  her  own  diary,  which  she  was  taught 
to  keep  when  she  was  at  school,  and  which  she  has  gone  on 
keeping  ever  since.  In  answer  to  an  improvement  on  this 
notion,  devised  by  myself,  namely,  that  she  should  tell  the 
story  instead  of  me,  out  of  her  own  diary,  Penelope  observes, 
with  a  fierce  look  and  a  red  face,  that  her  journal  is  for  her 
own  private  eye,  and  that  no  living  creature  shall  ever  know 
what  is  in  it  but  herself.  When  I  inquire  what  this  means, 
Penelope  says,  "Fiddlestick !"    /  say,  "Sweet-hearts." 

Beginning,  then,  on  Penelope's  plan,  I  beg  to  mention  that 
I  was  specially  called  one  Wednesday  morning  into  my  lady's 
own  sitting-room,  the  date  being  the  twenty-fourth  of  May, 
eighteen  hundred  and  forty-eight. 

"Gabriel,"  says  my  lady,  "here  is  news  that  will  surprise 
you.  Franklin  Blake  has  come  back  from  abroad.  He  has 
been  staying  with  his  father  in  London,  and  he  is  coming  to 
us  to-morrow  to  stop  till  next  month  and  keep  Rachel's 
birthday." 

i8 


THE  MOONSTONE 

If  I  had  had  a  hat  in  my  hand  nothing  but  respect  would 
have  prevented  me  from  throwing  that  hat  up  to  the  ceil- 
ing. I  had  not  seen  Mr.  FrankHn  since  he  was  a  boy,  living 
along  with  us  in  this  house.  He  was,  out  of  all  sight,  as  I  re- 
membered him,  the  nicest  boy  that  ever  spun  a  top  or  broke 
a  window.  Miss  Rachel,  who  was  present  and  to  whom  I 
made  that  remark,  observed,  in  return,  that  she  remembered 
him  as  the  most  atrocious  tyrant  that  ever  tortured  a  doll, 
and  the  hardest  driver  of  an  exhausted  little  girl  in  string 
harness  that  England  could  produce.  "I  burn  with  indig- 
nation and  I  ache  with  fatigue,"  was  the  way  Miss  Rachel 
summed  it  up,  "when  I  think  of  Franklin  Blake." 

Hearing  what  I  now  tell  you,  you  will  naturally  ask  how 
it  was  that  Mr.  Franklin  should  have  passed  all  the  years, 
from  the  time  when  he  was  a  boy  to  the  time  when  he  was  a 
man,  out  of  his  own  country.  I  answer,  because  his  father 
had  the  misfortune  to  be  next  heir  to  a  Dukedom,  and  not  to 
be  able  to  prove  it. 

In  two  words,  this  was  how  the  thing  happened : 

My  lady's  eldest  sister  married  the  celebrated  Mr.  Blake 
— equally  famous  for  his  great  riches  and  his  great  suit  at 
law.  How  many  years  he  went  on  worrying  the  tribunals 
of  his  country  to  turn  out  the  Duke  in  possession  and  to  put 
himself  in  the  Duke's  place;  how  many  lawyers'  purses  he 
filled  to  bursting,  and  how  many  otherwise  harmless  people 
he  set  by  the  ears  together  disputing  whether  he  was  right 
or  wrong — is  more  by  a  great  deal  than  I  can  reckon  up.  His 
wife  died,  and  two  of  his  three  children  died,  before  the  tri- 
bunals could  make  up  their  minds  to  show  him  the  door  and 
take  no  more  of  his  money.  When  it  was  all  over,  and  the 
Duke  in  possession  was  left  in  possession,  Mr.  Blake  discov- 
ered that  the  only  way  of  being  even  with  his  country  for 
the  manner  in  which  it  had  treated  him  was  not  to  let  his 
country  have  the  honor  of  educating  his  son.  "How  can  I 
trust  my  native  institutions,"  was  the  form  in  which  he  put 
it,  "after  the  way  in  which  my  native  institutions  have  be- 
haved to  me?"  Add  to  this  that  Mr.  Blake  disliked  all  boys, 
his  own  included,  and  you  will  admit  that  it  could  only  end 
in  one  way.  Master  Franklin  was  taken  from  us  in  England 
and  was  sent  to  institutions  which  his  father  could  trust,  in 

19 


THE  MOONSTONE 

that  superior  country,  Germany ;  Mr.  Blake  himself,  you  will 
observe,  remaining  snug  in  England,  to  improve  his  fellow- 
countrymen  in  the  Parliament  House  and  to  publish  a  state- 
ment on  the  subject  of  the  Duke  in  possession,  which  has 
remained  an  unfinished  statement  from  that  day  to  this. 

There !  Thank  God,  that's  told !  Neither  you  nor  I  need 
trouble  our  heads  any  more  about  Mr.  Blake,  senior.  Leave 
him  to  the  Dukedom,  and  let  you  and  I  stick  to  the  Dia- 
mond. 

The  Diamond  takes  us  back  to  Mr.  Franklin,  who  was  the 
innocent  means  of  bringing  that  unlucky  jewel  into  the  house. 

Our  nice  boy  didn't  forget  us  after  he  went  abroad.  He 
wrote  every  now  and  then ;  sometimes  to  my  lady,  some- 
times to  Miss  Rachel,  and  sometimes  to  me.  We  had  had  a 
transaction  together  before  he  left,  which  consisted  of  his 
borrowing  of  me  a  ball  of  string,  a  four-bladed  knife,  and 
seven-and-sixpence  in  money — the  color  of  which  last  I  have 
not  seen,  and  never  expect  to  see,  again.  His  letters  to  me 
chiefly  related  to  borrowing  more.  I  heard,  however,  from 
my  lady,  how  he  got  on  abroad,  as  he  grew  in  years  and 
stature.  After  he  had  learned  what  the  institutions  of  Ger- 
many could  teach  him,  he  gave  the  French  a  turn  next,  and 
the  Italians  a  turn  after  that.  They  made  him  among  them 
a  sort  of  universal  genius,  as  well  as  I  could  understand  it. 
He  wrote  a  little ;  he  painted  a  little ;  he  sang  and  played  and 
composed  a  little — borrowing,  as  I  suspect,  in  all  these  cases, 
just  as  he  had  borrowed  from  me.  His  mother's  fortune, 
seven  hundred  a  year,  fell  to  him  when  he  came  of  age,  and 
ran  through  him  as  it  might  be  through  a  sieve.  The  more 
money  he  had,  the  more  he  wanted ;  there  was  a  hole  in  Mr. 
Franklin's  pocket  that  nothing  would  sew  up.  Wherever 
he  went  the  lively,  easy  way  of  him  made  him  welcome.  He 
lived  here,  there,  and  everywhere ;  his  address,  as  he  used  to 
put  it  himself,  being  "Post-office,  Europe — to  be  left  till  called 
for."  Twice  over  he  made  up  his  mind  to  come  back  to 
England  and  see  us ;  and  twice  over  (saving  your  presence) 
some  unmentionable  woman  stood  in  the  way  and  stopped 
him.  His  third  attempt  succeeded,  as  you.know  already  from 
what  my  lady  told  me.  On  Thursday,  the  twenty-fifth  of 
May,  we  were  to  see  for  the  first  time  what  our  nice  boy  had 

20 


THE  MOONSTONE 

grown  to  be  as  a  man.  He  came  of  good  blood;  he  had  a 
high  courage ;  and  he  was  five-and-twenty  years  of  age,  by 
our  reckoning.  Now  you  know  as  much  of  Mr.  Franklin 
Blake  as  I  did — before  Mr.  Franklin  Blake  came  down  to  our 
house. 

The  Thursday  was  as  fine  a  summer's  day  as  ever  you  saw ; 
and  my  lady  and  Miss  Rachel,  not  expecting  Mr.  Frank- 
lin till  dinner-time,  drove  out  to  lunch  with  some  friends  in 
the  neighborhood. 

When  they  were  gone  I  went  and  had  a  look  at  the  bed- 
room which  had  been  got  ready  for  our  guest,  and  saw  that 
all  was  straight.  Then,  being  butler  in  my  lady's  establish- 
ment, as  well  as  steward — at  my  own  particular  request, 
mind,  and  because  it  vexed  me  to  see  any  body  but  myself 
in  possession  of  the  key  of  the  late  Sir  John's  cellar — then, 
I  say,  I  fetched  up  some  of  our  famous  Latour  claret,  and  set 
it  in  the  warm  summer  air  to  take  off  the  chill  before  din- 
ner. Concluding  to  set  myself  in  the  warm  summer  air  next 
— seeing  that  what  is  good  for  old  claret  is  equally  good  for 
old  age — I  took  up  my  bee-hive  chair  to  go  out  into  the  back 
court,  when  I  was  stopped  by  hearing  a  sound  like  the  soft 
beating  of  a  drum  on  the  terrace  in  front  of  my  lady's  resi- 
dence. 

Going  round  to  the  terrace,  I  found  three  mahogany-col- 
ored Indians,  in  white  linen  frocks  and  trousers,  looking  up 
at  the  house. 

The  Indians,  as  I  saw  on  looking  closer,  had  small  hand- 
drums  slung  in  front  of  them.  Behind  them  stood  a  little, 
delicate-looking,  light-haired,  English  boy  carrying  a  bag.  I 
judged  the  fellows  to  be  strolling  conjurers  and  the  boy  with 
the  bag  to  be  carrying  the  tools  of  their  trade.  One  of  the 
three,  who  spoke  English,  and  who  exhibited,  I  must  own, 
the  most  elegant  manners,  presently  informed  me  that  my 
judgment  was  right.  He  requested  permission  to  show  his 
tricks  in  the  presence  of  the  lady  of  the  house. 

Now  I  am  not  a  sour  old  man.  I  am  generally  all  for 
amusement  and  the  last  person  in  the  world  to  distrust  an- 
other person  because  he  happens  to  be  a  few  shades  darker 
than  nivself.     But  the  best  of  us  have  our  weaknesses — and 


THE  MOONSTONE 

my  weakness,  when  I  know  a  family  plate-basket  to  be  out 
on  a  pantry-table,  is  to  be  instantly  reminded  of  that  basket 
by  the  sight  of  a  strolling  stranger  whose  manners  are  supe- 
rior to  my  own.  I  accordingly  informed  the  Indian  that  the 
lady  of  the  house  was  out,  and  I  warned  him  and  his  party 
oflF  the  premises.  He  made  me  a  beautiful  bow  in  return, 
and  he  and  his  party  went  off  the  premises.  On  my  side,  I 
returned  to  my  bee-hive  chair,  and  set  myself  down  on  the 
sunny  side  of  the  court,  and  fell,  if  the  truth  must  be  owned, 
not  exactly  into  a  sleep,  but  into  the  next  best  thing  to  it. 

I  was  roused  up  by  my  daughter  Penelope  running  out  at  me 
as  if  the  house  was  on  fire.  What  do  you  think  she  wanted? 
She  wanted  to  have  the  three  Indian  'jugglers  instantly 
taken  up;  for  this  reason,  namely,  that  they  knew  who  was 
coming  from  London  to  visit  us  and  that  they  meant  some 
mischief  to  Mr.  Franklin  Blake. 

Mr.  Franklin's  name  roused  me.  I  opened  my  eyes  and 
made  my  girl  explain  herself. 

It  appeared  that  Penelope  had  just  come  from  our  lodge, 
where  she  had  been  having  a  gossip  with  the  lodge-keeper's 
daughter.  The  two  girls  had  seen  the  Indians  pass  out,  after 
I  had  warned  them  off,  followed  by  their  little  boy.  Taking 
it  into  their  heads  that  the  boy  was  ill  used  by  the  foreigners 
— for  no  reason  that  I  could  discover,  except  that  he  was 
pretty  and  delicate-looking — the  girls  had  stolen  along  the 
inner  side  of  the  hedge  between  us  and  the  road  and  had 
watched  the  proceedings  of  the  foreigners  on  the  outer  side. 
These  proceedings  resulted  in  the  performance  of  the  follow- 
ing extraordinary  tricks. 

They  first  looked  up  the  road  and  down  the  road,  and  made 
sure  that  they  were  alone.  Then  they  all  three  faced  about 
and  stared  hard  in  the  direction  of  our  house.  Then  they 
jabbered  and  disputed  in  their  own  language,  and  looked  at 
each  other  like  men  in  doubt.  Then  they  all  turned  to  their 
little  English  boy,  as  if  they  expected  him  to  help  them.  And 
then  the  chief  Indian,  who  spoke  English,  said  to  the  boy, 
"Hold  out  your  hand." 

On  hearing  those  dreadful  words,  my  daughter  Penelope 
said  she  didn't  know  what  prevented  her  heart  from  flying 
straight  out  of  her.     I  thought  privately  that  it  might  have 

22 


! 


THE  MOONSTONE 

been  her  stays.  All  I  said,  however,  was,  "You  make  my 
flesh  creep."  (Nofa  bene:  women  like  these  little  compli- 
ments.) 

Well,  when  the  Indian  said,  "Hold  out  your  hand,"  the 
boy  shrank  back,  and  shook  his  head,  and  said  he  didn't  like 
it.  The  Indian  thereupon  asked  him,  not  at  all  unkindly, 
whether  he  would  like  to  be  sent  back  to  London  and  left 
where  they  had  found  him,  sleeping  in  an  empty  basket  in  a 
market — a  hungry,  ragged  and  forsaken  little  boy.  This,  it 
seems,  ended  the  difficulty.  The  little  chap  unwillingly  held 
out  his  hand.  Upon  that  the  Indian  took  a  bottle  from  his 
bosom  and  poured  out  of  it  some  black  stuff,  like  ink,  into 
the  palm  of  the  hoy's  hand.  The  Indian — first  touching  the 
boy's  head,  and  making  signs  over  it  in  the  air — then  said, 
"Look."  The  boy  became  quite  stiff  and  stood  like  a  statue, 
looking  into  the  ink  in  the  hollow  of  his  hand. 

(So  far,  it  seemed  to  me  to  be  juggling,  accompanied  by  a 
foolish  waste  of  ink.  I  was  beginning  to  feel  sleepy  again, 
when  Penelope's  next  words  stirred  me  up.) 

The  Indians  looked  up  the  road  and  down  the  road  once 
more — and  then  the  chief  Indian  said  these  words  to  the  boy, 
"See  the  English  gentleman  from  foreign  parts." 

The  boy  said,  "I  see  him." 

The  Indian  said,  "Is  it  on  the  road  to  this  house,  and  on 
no  other,  that  the  English  gentleman  will  pass  by  us  to-day  ?" 

The  boy  said,  "It  is  on  the  road  to  this  house,  and  on  no 
other,  that  the  English  gentleman  will  pass  by  you  to-day." 

The  Indian  put  a  second  question — after  waiting  a  little 
first.  He  said,  "Has  the  English  gentleman  got  It  about 
him  ?" 

The  boy  answered — also,  after  waiting  a  little  first — "Yes." 

The  Indian  put  a  third  and  last  question,  "Will  the  English 
gentleman  come  here,  as  he  has  promised  to  come,  at  the 
close  of  day?" 

The  boy  said,  "I  can't  tell." 

The  Indian  asked  why. 

The  boy  said,  "I  am  tired.  The  mist  rises  in  my  head, 
and  puzzles  me.     I  can  see  no  more  to-day." 

With  that  the  catechism  ended.  The  chief  Indian  said 
something  in  his  own  language  to  the  other  two,  pointing  to 

^5 


THE  MOONSTONE 

the  boy,  and  pointing  toward  the  town,  in  which,  as  we 
afterward  discovered,  they  were  lodged.  He  then,  after  mak- 
ing more  signs  on  the  boy's  head,  blew  on  his  forehead,  and 
so  woke  him  up  with  a  start.  After  that  they  all  went  on 
their  way  toward  the  town  and  the  girls  saw  them  no  more. 

Most  things,  they  say,  have  a  moral,  if  you  only  look  for  it. 
What  was  the  moral  of  this? 

The  moral  was,  as  I  thought:  First,  that  the  chief  juggler 
had  heard  Mr.  Franklin's  arrival  talked  of  among  the  ser- 
vants out-of-doors,  and  saw  his  way  to  making  a  little  money 
by  it.  Second,  that  he  and  his  men  and  boy  (with  a  view  to 
making  the  said  money)  meant  to  hang  about  till  they  saw 
my  lady  drive  home,  and  then  to  come  back,  and  foretell  Mr. 
Franklin's  arrival  by  magic.  Third,  that  Penelope  had  heard 
them  rehearsing  their  hocus-pocus,  like  actors  rehearsing  a 
play.  Fourth,  that  I  should  do  well  to  have  an  eye,  that 
evening,  on  the  plate-basket.  Fifth,  that  Penelope  would  do 
well  to  cool  down,  and  leave  me,  her  father,  to  doze  ofif  again 
in  the  sun. 

That  appeared  to  me  to  be  the  sensible  view.  If  you  know 
any  thing  of  the  ways  of  young  women,  you  won't  be  sur- 
prised to  hear  that  Penelope  wouldn't  take  it.  The  moral 
of  the  thing  was  serious,  according  to  my  daughter.  She 
particularly  reminded  me  of  the  Indian's  third  question :  "Has 
the  English  gentleman  got  It  about  him?"  "Oh,  Father!" 
says  Penelope,  clasping  her  hands,  "don't  joke  about  this ! 
What  does  'It'  mean?" 

"We'll  ask  Mr.  Franklin,  my  dear,"  I  said,  "if  you  can  wait 
till  Mr.  Franklin  comes."  I  winked  to  show  I  meant  that 
in  joke.  Penelope  took  it  quite  seriously.  My  girl's  earnest- 
ness tickled  me.  "What  on  earth  should  Mr.  Franklin  know 
about  it?"  I  inquired.  "Ask  him,"  says  Penelope.  "And  see 
whether  he  thinks  it  a  laughing  matter,  too."  With  that  part- 
ing shot  my  daughter  left  me. 

I  settled  it  with  myself,  when  she  was  gone,  that  I  really 
would  ask  Mr.  Franklin — mainly  to  set  Penelope's  mind  at 
rest.  What  was  said  between  us,  when  I  did  ask  him,  later 
on  that  same  day,  you  will  find  set  out  fully  in  its  proper 
place.  But  as  I  don't  wish  to  raise  your  expectations  and 
then  disappoint  them,  I  will  take  leave  to  warn  you  here — 

24 


THE  MOONSTONE 

before  we  go  any  further — that  you  won't  find  the  ghost  of 
a  joke  in  our  conversation  on  the  subject  of  the  jugglers.  To 
my  great  surprise,  Mr.  FrankHn,  Hke  Penelope,  took  the  thing 
seriously.  How  seriously,  you  will  understand,  when  I  tell 
you  that,  in  his  opinion,  "It"  meant  the  Moonstone. 


CHAPTER  IV. 


I  AM  truly  sorry  to  detain  you  over  me  and  my  bee-hive 
chair.  A  sleepy  old  man,  in  a  sunny  back-yard,  is  not 
an  interesting  object,  I  am  well  aware.  But  things  must  be 
put  down  in  their  places,  as  things  actually  happened — and 
you  must  please  to  jog  on  a  little  while  longer  with  me,  in 
expectation  of  Mr.  Franklin  Blake's  arrival  later  in  the  day. 
Before  I  had  time  to  doze  off  again,  after  my  daughter 
Penelope  had  left  me,  I  was  disturbed  by  a  rattling  of  plates 
and  dishes  in  the  servants'  hall,  which  meant  that  dinner 
was  ready.  Taking  my  own  meals  in  my  own  sitting-room, 
I  had  nothing  to  do  with  the  servants'  dinner,  except  to  wish 
them  a  good  stomach  to  it  all  round,  previous  to  composing 
myself  once  more  in  my  chair.  I  was  just  stretching  my  legs, 
when  out  bounced  another  woman  on  me.  Not  my  daugh- 
ter again ;  only  Nancy,  the  kitchen-maid,  this  time.  I  was 
straight  in  her  way  out ;  and  I  observed,  as  she  asked  me  to 
let  her  by,  that  she  had  a  sulky  face — a  thing  which,  as  head 
of  the  servants,  I  never  allow,  on  principle,  to  pass  me  with- 
out inquiry. 

/  "What  are  you  turning  your  back  on  your  dinner  for?"  I 
/asked.     "What's  wrong  now,  Nancy?" 

I  Nancy  tried  to  push  by  without  answering;  upon  which 
\l  rose  up,  and  took  her  by  the  ear.  She  is  a  nice,  plump 
5(Oung  lass,  and  it  is  customary  with  me  to  adopt  that  manner 
of  showing  that  I  personally  approve  of  a  girl. 
"What's  wrong  now  ?"  I  said,  once  more. 
"Rosanna's  late  again  for  dinner,"  says  Nancy.  "And  I'm 
sent  to  fetch  her  in.  All  the  hard  work  falls  on  my  shoulders 
in  this  house.    Let  me  alone,  Mr.  Betteredge !" 

The  person  here  mentioned  as  Rosanna  was  our  second 

?5 


THE  MOONSTONE 

house-maid.  Having  a  kind  of  pity  for  our  second  house- 
maid— why,  you  shall  presently  know — and  seeing  in  Nancy's 
face  that  she  would  fetch  her  fellow-servant  in  with  more 
hard  words  than  might  be  needful  under  the  circumstances, 
it  struck  me  that  I  had  nothing  particular  to  do,  and  that  I 
might  as  well  fetch  Rosanna  myself,  giving  her  a  hint  to 
be  punctual  in  future,  which  I  knew  she  would  take  kindly 
from  me. 

"Where  is  Rosanna?"  I  inquired. 

"At  the  sands,  of  course,"  says  Nancy,  with  a  toss  of  her 
head.  "She  had  another  of  her  fainting  fits  this  morning, 
and  she  asked  to  go  out  and  get  a  breath  of  fresh  air.  I 
have  no  patience  with  her." 

"Go  back  to  your  dinner,  my  girl,"  I  said.  "I  have  pa- 
tience with  her,  and  I'll  fetch  her  in." 

Nancy,  who  has  a  fine  appetite,  looked  pleased.  When 
she  looks  pleased,  she  looks  nice.  When  she  looks  nice,  I 
chuck  her  under  the  chin.    It  isn't  immorality — it's  only  habit. 

Well,  I  took  my  stick,  and  set  off  for  the  sands. 

No !  it  won't  do  to  set  off  yet.  I  am  sorry  again  to  detain 
you ;  but  you  really  must  hear  the  story  of  the  sands,  and 
the  story  of  Rosanna — for  this  reason,  that  the  matter  of  the 
Diamond  touches  them  both  nearly.  How  hard  I  try  to  get 
on  with  my  statement  without  stopping  by  the  way,  and  how 
badly  I  succeed !  But,  there ! — Persons  and  Things  do  turn 
up  so  vexatiously  in  this  life,  and  will  in  a  manner  insist 
on  being  noticed.  Let  us  take  it  easy,  and  let  us  take  it 
short ;  we  shall  be  in  the  thick  of  the  mystery  soon,  I  promise 
you ! 

Rosanna  (to  put  the  Person  before  the  Thing,  which  is  but 
common  politeness)  was  the  only  new  servant  in  our  house. 
About  four  months  before  the  time  I  am  writing  of  my  lady 
had  been  in  London,  and  had  gone  over  a  Reformatory,  in- 
tended to  save  forlorn  women  from  drifting  back  into  bad 
ways,  after  they  had  got  released  from  prison.  The  matron, 
seeing  my  lady  took  an  interest  in  the  place,  pointed  out  a 
girl  to  her,  named  Rosanna  Spearman,  and  told  her  a  most 
miserable  story,  which  I  haven't  the  heart  to  repeat  here ; 
for  I  don't  like  to  be  made  wretched  without  any  use,  and 
no  more  do  you.    The  upshot  of  it  was,  that  Rosanna  Spear- 

?6 


THE  MOONSTONE 

man  had  been  a  thief,  and  not  being  of  the  sort  that  get 
up  Companies  in  the  City,  and  rob  from  thousands,  instead 
of  only  robbing  from  one,  the  law  laid  hold  of  her,  and 
the  prison  and  the  reformatory  followed  the  lead  of  the  law. 
The  matron's  opinion  of  Rosanna  was,  in  spite  of  what  she 
had  done,  that  the  girl  was  one  in  a  thousand,  and  that  she 
only  wanted  a  chance  to  prove  herself  worthy  of  any  Chris- 
tian woman's  interest  in  her.  My  lady,  being  a  Christian 
woman  if  ever  there  was  one  yet,  said  to  the  matron  upon 
that,  Rosanna  Spearman  shall  have  her  chance  in  my  service. 
In  a  week  afterward  Rosanna  Spearman  entered  this  estab- 
lishment as  our  second  house-maid. 

Not  a  soul  was  told  the  girl's  story  excepting  Miss  Rachel 
and  me.  My  lady,  doing  me  the  honor  to  consult  me  about 
most  things,  consulted  me  about  Rosanna.  Having  fallen  a 
good  deal  latterly  into  the  late  Sir  John's  way  of  always 
agreeing  with  my  lady,  I  agreed  with  her  heartily  about 
Rosanna  Spearman. 

A  fairer  chance  no  girl  could  have  had  than  was  given  to 
this  poor  girl  of  ours.  None  of  the  servants  could  cast  her 
past  life  in  her  teeth,  for  none  of  the  servants  knew  what  it 
had  been.  She  had  her  wages  and  her  privileges,  like  the 
rest  of  them ;  and  every  now  and  then  a  friendly  word  from 
my  lady,  in  private,  to  encourage  her.  In  return  she  showed 
herself,  I  am  bound  to  say,  well  worthy  of  the  kind  treat- 
ment bestowed  upon  her.  Though  far  from  strong,  and 
troubled  occasionally  with  those  fainting  fits  already  men- 
tioned, she  went  about  her  work  modestly  and  uncomplain- 
ingly, doing  it  carefully  and  doing  it  well.  But  somehow  she 
failed  to  make  friends  among  the  other  women-servants,  ex- 
cepting my  daughter  Penelope,  who  was  always  kind  to 
Rosanna,  though  never  intimate  with  her. 

I  hardly  know  what  the  girl  did  to  ofifend  them.  There 
was  certainly  no  beauty  about  her  to  make  the  others  envious ; 
she  was  the  plainest  woman  in  the  house,  with  the  additional 
misfortune  of  having  one  shoulder  bigger  than  the  other. 
What  the  servants  chiefly  resented,  I  think,  was  her  silent 
tongue  and  her  solitary  ways.  She  read  or  worked  in  leisure 
hours  when  the  rest  gossiped.  And  when  it  came  to  her  turn 
to  go  out,  nine  times  out  of  ten  she  quietly  put  on  her  bon- 

27 


THE  MOONSTONE 

net,  and  had  her  turn  by  herself.  She  never  quarreled,  she 
never  took  offense ;  she  only  kept  a  certain  distance,  obsti- 
nately and  civilly,  between  the  rest  of  them  and  herself. 
Add  to  this  that,  plain  as  she  was,  there  was  just  a  dash  of 
something  that  wasn't  like  a  house-maid,  and  that  was  like 
a  lady,  about  her.  It  might  have  been  in  her  voice,  or  it 
might  have  been  in  her  face.  All  I  can  say  is  that  the  other 
women  pounced  on  it  like  lightning  the  first  day  she  came 
into  the  house,  and  said,  which  was  most  unjust,  that  Rosanna 
Spearman  gave  herself  airs. 

Having  now  told  the  story  of  Rosanna,  I  have  only  to 
notice  one  out  of  the  many  queer  ways  of  this  strange  girl  to 
get  on  next  to  the  story  of  the  sands. 

Our  house  is  high  up  on  the  Yorkshire  coast,  and  close  by 
the  sea.  We  have  got  beautiful  walks  all  round  us,  in  every 
direction  but  one.  That  one  I  acknowledge  to  be  a  horrid 
walk.  It  leads,  for  a  quarter  of  a  mile,  through  a  melancholy 
plantation  of  firs,  and  brings  you  out  between  low  cliffs  on 
the  loneliest  and  ugliest  little  bay  on  all  our  coast. 

The  sand-hills  here  run  down  to  the  sea,  and  end  in  two 
spits  of  rock  jutting  out  opposite  each  other,  till  you  lose 
sight  of  them  in  the  water.  One  is  called  the  North  Spit, 
and  one  the  South.  Between  the  two,  shifting  backward  and 
forward  at  certain  seasons  of  the  year,  lies  the  most  horrible 
quicksand  on  the  shores  of  Yorkshire.  At  the  turn  of  the 
tide  something  goes  on  in  the  unknown  deeps  below,  which 
sets  the  whole  face  of  the  quicksand  quivering  and  trembling 
in  a  manner  most  remarkable  to  see,  and  which  has  given 
to  it,  among  the  people  in  our  parts,  the  name  of  The  Shiver- 
ing Sand.  A  great  bank,  half  a  mile  out,  nigh  the  mouth 
of  the  bay,  breaks  the  force  of  the  main  ocean  coming  in 
from  the  offing.  Winter  and  summer,  when  the  tide  flows 
over  the  quicksand,  the  sea  seems  to  leave  the  waves  behind 
it  on  the  bank,  and  rolls  its  waters  in  smoothly  with  a  heave, 
and  covers  the  sand  in  silence.  A  lonesome  and  a  horrid 
retreat  I  can  tell  you !  No  boat  ever  ventures  into  this  bay. 
No  children  from  our  fishing-village,  called  Cobb's  Hole,  ever 
come  here  to  play.  The  very  birds  of  the  air,  as  it  seems 
to  me,  give  the  Shivering  Sand  a  wide  berth.  That  a  young 
woman,  with  dozens  of  nice  walks  to  choose  from,  and  com- 

28 


THE  MOONSTONE 

pany  to  go  with  her,  if  she  only  said  "Come !"  should  prefer 
this  place,  and  should  sit  and  work  or  read  in  it,  all  alone, 
when  it's  her  turn  out,  I  grant  you,  passes  belief..  It's  true, 
nevertheless,  account  for  it  as  you  may,  that  this  was  Rosanna 
Spearman's  favorite  walk,  except  when  she  went  once  or 
twice  to  Cobb's  Hole,  to  see  the  only  friend  she  had  in  our 
neighborhood — of  whom  more  anon.  It's  also  true  that  I 
was  now  setting  out  for  this  same  place,  to  fetch  the  girl  in 
to  dinner,  which  brings  us  round  happily  to  our  former  point, 
and  starts  us  fair  again  on  our  way  to  the  sands. 

I  saw  no  sign  of  the  girl  in  the  plantation.  When  I  got. 
out,  through  the  sand-hills,  on  to  the  beach,  there  she  was, 
in  her  little  straw  bonnet,  and  her  plain  gray  cloak  that  she 
always  wore  to  hide  her  deformed  shoulder  as  much  as  might 
be — there  she  was,  all  alone,  looking  out  on  the  quicksand 
and  the  sea. 

She  started  when  I  came  up  with  her,  and  turned  her  head 
away  from  me.  Not  looking  me  in  the  face  being  another 
of  the  proceedings  which,  as  head  of  the  servants,  I  never 
allow,  on  principle,  to  pass  without  inquiry — I  turned  her 
round  my  way,  and  saw  that  she  was  crying.  My  bandana 
handkerchief — one  of  six  beauties  given  to  me  by  my  lady — 
was  handy  in  my  pocket.  I  took  it  out,  and  I  said  to  Rosanna, 
"Come  and  sit  down,  my  dear,  on  the  slope  of  the  beach  along 
with  me.  I'll  dry  your  eyes  for  you  first,  and  then  I'll  make 
so  bold  as  to  ask  what  you  have  been  crying  about." 

When  you  come  to  my  age  you  will  find  sitting  down  on 
the  slope  of  a  beach  a  much  longer  job  than  you  think  it 
now.  By  the  time  I  was  settled,  Rosanna  had  dried  her  own 
eyes  with  a  very  inferior  handkerchief  to  mine — a  cheap  cam- 
bric. She  looked  very  quiet,  and  very  wretched ;  but  she  sat 
down  by  me  like  a  good  girl,  when  I  told  her.  When  you 
want  to  comfort  a  woman  by  the  shortest  way  take  her  on 
your  knee.  I  thought  of  the  golden  rule.  But  there !  Ro- 
sanna wasn't  Nancy,  and  that's  the  truth  of  it ! 

"Now  tell  me,  my  dear,"  I  said,  "what  are  you  crying 
about  ?" 

"About  the  years  that  are  gone,  Mr.  Betteredge,"  says 
Rosanna,  quietly.  "My  past  life  still  comes  back  to  me  some- 
times." 

29 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Come,  come,  my  girl,"  I  said,  "your  past  life  is  all 
sponged  out.     Why  can't  you  forget  it?" 

She  took  me  by  one  of  the  lappets  of  my  coat.  I  am  a 
slovenly  old  man,  and  a  good  deal  of  my  meat  and  drink  gets 
splashed  about  on  my  clothes.  Sometimes  one  of  the  women, 
and  sometimes  another,  cleans  me  of  my  grease.  The  day 
before  Rosanna  had  taken  out  a  spot  for  me  on  the  lappet 
of  my  coat  with  a  new  composition  warranted  to  remove  any 
thing.  The  grease  was  gone,  but  there  was  a  little  dull  place 
left  on  the  nap  of  the  cloth  where  the  grease  had  been.  The 
,girl  pointed  to  that  place  and  shook  her  head. 

"The  stain  is  taken  ofT,"  she  said.-  "But  the  place  shows, 
Mr.  Betteredge — the  place  shows  !" 

A  remark  which  takes  a  man  unawares  by  means  of  his 
own  coat  is  not  an  easy  remark  to  answer.  Something  in 
the  girl  herself,  too,  made  me  particularly  sorry  for  her  just 
then.  She  had  nice  brown  eyes,  plain  as  she  was  in  other 
ways — and  she  looked  at  me  with  a  sort  of  respect  for  my 
happy  old  age  and  my  good  character,  as  things  forever  out 
of  her  own  reach,  which  made  my  heart  heavy  for  our  second 
house-maid.  Not  feeling  myself  able  to  comfort  her,  there 
was  only  one  thing  to  do.  That  thing  was — to  take  her  in 
to  dinner. 

"Help  me  up,"  I  said.  "You're  late  for  dinner,  Rosanna — 
and  I  have  come  to  fetch  you  in." 

"You,  Mr.  Betteredge !"  says  she. 

"They  told  Nancy  to  fetch  you,"  I  said.  "But  I  thought 
you  might  like  your  scolding  better,  my  dear,  if  it  came 
from  me." 

Instead  of  helping  me  up,  the  poor  thing  stole  her  hand 
into  mine,  and  gave  it  a  little  squeeze.  She  tried  hard  to 
keep  from  crying  again,  and  succeeded — for  which  I  re- 
spected her.  "You're  very  kind,  Mr.  Betteredge,"  she  said. 
"I  don't  want  any  dinner  to-day — let  me  bide  a  little  longer 
here." 

"What  makes  you  like  to  be  here?"  I  asked.  "What  is 
it  that  brings  you  everlastingly  to  this  miserable  place  ?" 

"Something  draws  me  to  it,"  says  the  girl,  making  images 
with  her  finger  in  the  sand.  "I  try  to  keep  away  from  it, 
and  I  can't.     Sometimes,"  says  she,  in  a  low  voice,  as  if  she 

30 


THE  MOONSTONE 

was  frightened  at  her  own  fancy,  "sometimes,  Mr.  Better- 
edge,  I  think  that  my  grave  is  waiting  for  me  here," 

"There's  roast  mutton  and  suet  pudding  waiting  for  you !" 
says  I.  "Go  in  to  dinner  directly.  This  is  what  comes,  Ro- 
sanna,  of  thinking  on  an  empty  stomach !"  I  spoke  severely, 
being  naturally  indignant,  at  my  time  of  life,  to  hear  a  young 
woman  of  five-and-twenty  talking  about  her  latter  end ! 

She  didn't  seem  to  hear  me ;  she  put  her  hand  on  my 
shoulder,  and  kept  me  where  I  was,  sitting  by  her  side. 

"I  think  the  place  has  laid  a  spell  on  me,"  she  said,  "I 
dream  of  it  night  after  night ;  I  think  of  it  when  I  sit  stitching 
at  my  work.  You  know  I  am  grateful,  Mr.  Betteredge — 
you  know  I  try  to  deserve  your  kindness,  and* my  lady's  con- 
fidence in  me.  But  I  wonder  sometimes  whether  the  life  here 
is  too  quiet  and  too  good  for  such  a  woman  as  I  am,  after 
all  I  have  gone  through,  Mr.  Betteredge — after  all  I  have 
gone  through.  It's  more  lonely  to  me  to  be  among  the  other 
servants,  knowing  I  am  not  what  they  are,  than  it  is  to  be 
here.  My  lady  doesn't  know,  the  mation  at  the  reformatory 
doesn't  know,  what  a  dreadful  reproach  honest  people  are  in 
themselves  to  a  woman  like  me.  Don't  scold  me,  there's  a 
dear  good  man.  I  do  my  work,  don't  I  ?  Please  not  to  tell 
my  lady  I  am  discontented — I  am  not.  My  mind's  unquiet, 
sometimes,  that's  all."  She  snatched  her  hand  off  my  shoul- 
der, and  suddenly  pointed  down  to  the  quicksand.  "Look !" 
she  said.  "Isn't  it  wonderful  ?  isn't  it  terrible  ?  I  have  seen 
it  dozens  of  times,  and  it's  always  as  new  to  me  as  if  I  had 
never  seen  it  before !" 

I  looked  where  she  pointed.  The  tide  was  on  the  turn, 
and  the  horrid  sand  began  to  shiver.  The  broad  brown  face 
of  it  heaved  slowly,  and  then  dimpled  and  quivered  all  over, 
"Do  you  know  what  it  looks  like  to  me?"  cays  Rosanna, 
catching  me  by  the  shoulder  again.  "It  looks  as  if  it  had 
hundreds  of  suffocating  people  under  it — all  struggling  to 
get  to  the  surface,  and  all  sinking  lower  and  lower  in  the 
dreadful  deeps !  Throw  a  stone  in,  Mr.  Betteredge !  throw 
a  stone  in,  and  let's  see  the  sand  suck  it  down !" 

Here  was  unwholesome  talk !  Here  was  an  empty  stomach 
feeding  on  an  unquiet  mind !  My  answer — a  pretty  sharp 
one,  in  the  poor  girl's  own  interests,  I  promise  you ! — was  at 

31 


THE  MOONSTONE 

my  tongue's  end,  when  it  was  snapped  short  off  on  a  sudden 
by  a  voice  among  the  sand-hills  shouting  for  me  by  my  name. 
"Betteredge !"  cries  the  voice,  "where  are  you?"  "Here!"  I 
shouted  out  in  return,  without  a  notion  in  my  head  who  it 
was.  Rosanna  started  to  her  feet,  and  stood  looking  toward 
the  voice.  I  was  just  thinking  of  getting  on  my  own  legs 
next,  when  I  was  staggered  by  a  sudden  change  in  the  girl's 
face. 

Her  complexion  turned  of  a  beautiful  red,  which  I  had 
never  seen  in  it  before ;  she  brightened  all  over  with  a  kind 
of  speechless  and  breathless  surprise.  "Who  is  it?"  I  asked. 
Rosanna  gave  me  back  my  own  question.  "Oh!  who  is  it?" 
she  said,  softly;  more  to  herself  than  to  me.  I  twisted  round 
on  the  sand,  and  looked  behind  me.  There,  coming  out  on 
us  from  among  the  hills,  was  a  bright-eyed  young  gentleman, 
dressed  in  a  beautiful  fawn-colored  suit,  with  gloves  and 
hat  to  match,  with  a  rose  in  his  button-hole,  and  a  smile  on  his 
face  that  might  have  set  the  Shivering  Sand  itself  smiling  at 
him  in  return.  Before  I  could  get  on  my  legs  he  plumped 
down  on  the  sand  by  the  side  of  me,  put  his  arm  round  my 
neck,  foreign  fashion,  and  gave  me  a  hug  that  fairly  squeezed 
the  breath  out  of  my  body.  "Dear  old  Betteredge !"  says  he. 
"I  owe  you  seven  and  sixpence.  Now  do  you  know  who 
I  am?" 

Lord  bless  us  and  save  us !  Here — four  good  hours  before 
we  expected  him — was  Mr.  Franklin  Blake ! 

Before  I  could  say  a  word  I  saw  Mr.  Franklin,  a  little 
surprised,  to  all  appearance,  look  up  from  me  to  Rosanna. 
Following  his  lead,  I  looked  at  the  girl  too.  She  was  blushing 
of  a  deeper  red  than  ever :  seemingly  at  having  caught  Mr. 
Franklin's  eye,  and  she  turned  and  left  us  suddenly,  in  a 
confusion  quite  unaccountable  to  my  mind,  without  either 
making  her  courtesy  to  the  gentleman  or  saying  a  word  to 
me — very  unlike  her  usual  self;  a  civiler  and  better-behaved 
servant,  in  general,  you  never  met  with. 

"That's  an  odd  girl,"  says  Mr.  Franklin.  "I  wonder  what 
she  sees  in  me  to  surprise  her  ?" 

"I  suppose,  sir,"  I  answered,  drolling  on  our  young  gentle- 
man's Continental  education,  "it's  the  varnish  from  foreign 
parts." 

32 


THE  MOONSTONE 

I  set  down  here  Mr.  Franklin's  careless  question,  and  my 
foolish  answer,  as  a  consolation  and  encouragement  to  all 
stupid  people — it  being,  as  I  have  remarked,  a  great  satis- 
faction to  our  inferior  fellow-creatures  to  find  that  their  bet- 
ters are,  on  occasions,  no  brighter  than  they  are.  Neither  Mr. 
Franklin,  with  his  wonderful  foreign  training,  nor  I,  with  my 
age,  experience,  and  natural  mother-wit,  had  the  ghost  of  an 
idea  of  what  Rosanna  Spearman's  unaccountable  behavior 
really  meant.  She  was  out  of  our  thoughts,  poor  soul,  before 
we  had  seen  the  last  flutter  of  her  little  gray  cloak  among 
the  sand-hills.  And  what  of  that?  you  will  ask  naturally 
enough.  Read  on,  good  friend,  as  patiently  as  you  can,  and 
perhaps  you  will  be  as  sorry  for  Rosanna  Spearman  as  I  was, 
when  I  found  out  the  truth. 


CHAPTER  V. 


THE  first  thing  I  did,  after  we  were  left  together  alone, 
was  to  make  a  third  attempt  to  get  up  from  my  seat 
on  the  sand.     Mr.  Franklin  stopped  me. 

"There  is  oi\e  advantage  about  this  horrid  place,"  he  said ; 
"we  have  got  it  all  to  ourselves.  Stay  where  you  are.  Better- 
edge  ;  I  have  something  to  say  to  you." 

While  he  was  speaking,  I  was  looking  at  him,  and  trying 
to  see  something  of  the  boy  I  remembered  in  the  man  before 
me.  The  man  put  me  out.  Look  as  I  might  I  could  see  no 
more  of  his  boy's  rosy  cheeks  than  his  boy's  trim  little  jacket. 
His  complexion  had  got  pale ;  his  face,  at  the  lower  part, 
was  covered,  to  my  great  surprise  and  disappointment,  with  a 
curly  brown  beard  and  mustache.  He  had  a  lively  touch- 
and-go  way  with  him,  very  pleasant  and  engaging,  I  admit; 
but  nothing  to  compare  with  his  free-and-easy  manners  of 
other  times.  To  make  matters  worse,  he  had  promised  to  be 
tall,  and  had  not  kept  his  promise.  He  was  neat,  and  slim, 
and  well  made ;  but  he  wasn't  by  an  inch  or  two  up  to  the 
middle  height.  In  short,  he  bafifled  me  altogether.  The  years 
that  had  passed  had  left  nothing  of  his  old  self,  except  the 
bright,  straightforward  look  in  his  eyes.    There  I  found  our 

'  33 


THE  MOONSTONE 

nice  boy  again,  and  there  I  concluded  to  stop  in  my  investi- 
gation. 

"Welcome  back  to  the  old  place,  Mr.  Franklin,"  I  said. 
"All  the  more  welcome,  sir,  that  you  have  come  some  hours 
before  we  expected  you." 

'T  have  a  reason  for  coming  before  you  expected  me,"  an- 
swered Mr.  Franklin.  "I  suspect,  Betteredge,  that  I  have 
been  followed  and  watched  in  London  for  the  last  three  or 
four  days,  and  I  have  traveled  by  the  morning  instead  of 
the  afternoon  train  because  I  wanted  to  give  a  certain  dark- 
looking  stranger  the  slip." 

Those  words  did  more  than  surprise  me.  They  brought 
back  to  my  mind,  in  a  flash,  the  three  jugglers,  and  Penelope's 
notion  that  they  meant  some  mischief  to  Mr.  Franklin  Blake. 

"Who's  watching  you,  sir — and  why?"  I  inquired. 

"Tell  me  about  the  three  Indi:.ns  you  have  had  at  the 
house  to-day,"  says  Mr.  Franklin,  without  noticing  my  ques- 
tion. 'Tt's  just  possible,  Betteredge,  that  my  stranger  and 
your  three  jugglers  may  turn  out  to  be  pieces  of  the  same 
puzzle." 

"How  do  you  come  to  know  about  the  jugglers,  sir?"  I 
asked,  putting  one  question  on  the  top  of  another,  which  was 
bad  manners,  I  own.  But  you  don't  expect  much  from  poor 
human  nature — so  don't  expect  much  from  me. 

"I  saw  Penelope  at  the  house,"  says  Mr.  Franklin ;  "and 
Penelope  told  me.  Your  daughter  promised  to  be  a  pretty 
girl,  Betteredge,  and  she  has  kept  her  promise.  Penelope 
has  got  a  small  ear  and  a  small  foot.  Did  the  late  Mrs.  Bet- 
teredge possess  those  inestimable  advantages?" 

"The  late  Mrs.  Betteredge  possessed  a  good  many  defects, 
sir,"  says  L  "One  of  them,  if  you  will  pardon  my  mentioning 
it,  was  never  keeping  to  the  matter  in  hand.  She  was  more 
like  a  fly  than  a  woman,  she  couldn't  settle  on  any  thing." 

"She  would  just  have  suited  me,"  says  Mr.  Franklin.  "I 
never  settle  on  any  thing  either.  Betteredge,  your  edge  is 
better  than  ever.  Your  daughter  said  as  much,  when  I  asked 
for  particulars  about  the  jugglers.  'Father  will  tell  you,  sir. 
He's  a  wonderful  man  for  his  age ;  and  he  expresses  himself 
beautifully.'  Penelope's  own  words — blushing  divinely.  Not 
even  my  respect  for  you  prevented  me  from — never  mind; 

34 


THE  MOONSTONE 

I  knew  her  when  she  was  a  child,  and  she's  none  the  worse 
for  it.    Let's  be  serious.    What  did  the  jugglers  do?" 

I  was  something  dissatisfied  with  my  daughter — not  for 
letting  Air.  Franklin  kiss  her;  Mr.  Franklin  was  welcome  to 
that — but  for.  forcing  me  to  tell  her  foolish  story  at  stcond- 
hand.  However,  there  was  no  help  for  it  now  but  to  mention 
the  circumstances.  Mr.  Franklin's  merriment  all  died  away 
as  I  went  on.  He  sat  knitting  his  eyebrows  and  twisting  his 
beard.  When  I  had  done,  he  repeated  after  me  two  of  the 
questions  which  the  chief  juggler  had  put  to  the  boy — seem- 
ingly for  the  purpose  of  fixing  them  well  in  his  mind. 

"  'Is  it  on  the  road  to  this  house,  and  on  no  other,  that  the 
English  gentleman  will  pass  by  us  to-day  ?'  'Has  the  English 
gentleman  got  It  about  him?'  I  suspect,"  says  Mr.  Franklin, 
pulling  a  little  sealed  paper  parcel  out  of  his  pocket,  "that 
'It'  means  this.  And  'this,'  Betteredge,  means  my  uncle 
Herncastle's  famous  Diamond." 

"Good  Lord,  sir !"  I  broke  out,  "how  do  you  come  to  be 
in  charge  of  the  wicked  Colonel's  Diamond?" 

"The  wicked  Colonel's  will  has  left  his  Diamond  as  a 
birthday  present  to  my  cousin  Rachel,"  says  Mr.  Franklin. 
"And  my  father,  as  the  wicked  Colonel's  executor,  has  given 
it  in  charge  to  me  to  bring  down  here." 

If  the  sea,  then  oozing  in  smoothly  over  the  Shivering 
Sand,  had  been  changed  into  dry  land  before  my  own  eyes, 
I  doubt  if  I  could  have  been  more  surprised  than  I  was  when 
Mr.  Franklin  spoke  those  words. 

"The  Colonel's  Diamond  left  to  Miss  Rachel !"  says  I. 
"And  your  father,  sir,  the  Colonel's  executor !  Why,  I  would 
have  laid  any  bet  you  like,  Mr.  Franklin,  that  your  father 
wouldn't  have  touched  the  Colonel  with  a  pair  of  tongs !" 

"Strong  language,  Betteredge !  What  was  there  against 
the  Colonel?  He  belonged  to  your  time,  not  to  mine.  Tell 
me  what  you  know  about  him,  and  I'll  tell  you  how  my  father 
came  to  be  his  executor,  and  more  besides.  I  have  made 
some  discoveries  in  London  about  my  uncle  Herncastle  and 
his  Diamond,  which  have  rather  an  ugly  look  to  my  eyes ; 
and  I  want  you  to  confirm  them.  You  called  him  the  'wicked 
Colonel'  just  now.  Search  your  memory,  my  old  friend,  and 
tell  me  why." 

35 


THE  MOONSTONE 

I  saw  he  was  in  earnest,  and  I  told  him. 

Here  follows  the  substance  of  what  I  said,  written  out 
entirely  for  your  benefit.  Pay  attention  to  it,  or  you  will  be 
all  abroad,  when  we  get  deeper  into  the  story.  Clear  your 
mind  of  the  children,  or  the  dinner,  or  the  new  bonnet,  or 
what  not.  Try  if  you  can't  forget  politics,  horses,  prices  in 
the  City,  and  grievances  at  the  club.  I  hope  you  won't  take 
this  freedom  on  my  part  amiss ;  it's  only  a  way  I  have  of 
appealing  to  the  gentle  reader.  Lord !  haven't  I  seen  you 
with  the  greatest  authors  in  your  hands,  and  don't  I  know 
how  ready  your  attention  is  to  wander  when  it's  a  book  that 
asks  for  it,  instead  of  a  person? 

I  SPOKE,  a  little  way  back,  of  my  lady's  father,  the  old  lord 
with  the  short  temper  and  the  long  tongue.  He  had 
five  children  in  all.  Two  sons  to  begin  with ;  then,  after  a 
long  time,  his  wife  broke  out  breeding  again,  and  the  three 
young  ladies  came  briskly  one  after  the  other,  as  fast  as  the 
nature  of  things  would  permit ;  my  mistress,  as  before  men- 
tioned, being  the  youngest  and  best  of  the  three.  Of  the  two 
sons,  the  eldest,  Arthur,  inherited  the  title  and  estates.  The 
second,  the  Honorable  John,  got  a  fine  fortune  left  him  by 
a  relative,  and  went  into  the  army. 

It's  an  ill  bird,  they  say,  that  fouls  its  own  nest.  I  look 
on  the  noble  family  of  the  Herncastles  as  being  my  nest; 
and  I  shall  take  it  as  a  favor  if  I  am  not  expected  to  enter 
into  particulars  on  the  subject  of  the  Honorable  John.  He 
was,  I  honestly  believe,  one  of  the  greatest  blackguards  that 
ever  lived.  I  can  hardly  say  more  or  less  for  him  than  that. 
He  went  into  the  army,  beginning  in  the  Guards.  He  had 
to  leave  the  Guards  before  he  was  two-and-twenty — never 
mind  why.  They  are  very  strict  in  the  army,  and  they  were 
too  strict  for  the  Honorable  John.  He  went  out  to  India  to 
see  whether  they  were  equally  strict  there,  and  to  try  a  little 
active  service.  In  the  matter  of  bravery,  to  give  him  his  due, 
he  was  a  mixture  of  bull-dog  and  game-cock,  with  a  dash 
of  the  savage.  He  was  at  the  taking  of  Seringapatam.  Soon 
afterward  he  changed  into  another  regiment,  and,  in  course 
of  time,  changed  again  into  a  third.  In  the  third  he 
got  his  last  step  as  lieutenant-colonel,  and,  getting  that,  got 
also  a  sun-stroke,  and  came  home  to  England. 

36 


THE  MOONSTONE 

He  came  back  with  a  character  that  closed  the  doors  of 
all  his  family  against  him,  my  lady,  then  just  married,  taking 
the  lead,  and  declaring,  with  Sir  John's  approval,  of  course, 
that  her  brother  should  never  enter  any  house  of  hers.  There 
was  more  than  one  slur  on  the  Colonel  that  made  people  shy 
of  him;  but  the  blot  of  the  Diamond  is  all  I  need  mention 
here. 

It  was  said  he  had  got  possession  of  his  Indian  jewel  by 
means  which,  bold  as  he  was,  he  didn't  dare  acknowledge. 
He  never  attempted  to  sell  it — not  being  in  need  of  money, 
and  not,  to  give  him  his  due  again,  making  money  an  object. 
He  never  gave  it  away ;  he  never  even  showed  it  to  any  living 
soul.  Some  said  he  was  afraid  of  its  getting  him  into  a  diffi- 
culty with  the  military  authorities;  others,  very  ignorant 
indeed  of  the  real  nature  of  the  man,  said  he  was  afraid,  if  he 
showed  it,  of  its  costing  him  his  life. 

There  was  perhaps  a  grain  of  truth  mixed  up  with  this 
last  report.  It  was  false  to  say  that  he  was  afraid ;  but  it 
was  a  fact  that  his  life  had  been  twice  threatened  in  India, 
and  it  was  firmly  believed  that  the  Diamond  was  at  the  bot- 
tom of  it.  When  he  came  back  to  England,  and  found  him- 
self avoided  by  every  body,  the  Diamond  was  thought  to  be 
at  the  bottom  of  it  again.  The  mystery  of  the  Colonel's  life 
got  in  the  Colonel's  way,  and  outlawed  him,  as  you  may  say, 
among  his  own  people.  The  men  wouldn't  let  him  into  their 
clubs ;  the  women — more  than  one — whom  he  wanted  to 
marry,  refused  him ;  friends  and  relations  got  too  near- 
sighted to  see  him  in  the  street. 

Some  men  in  this  mess  would  have  tried  to  set  themselves 
right  with  the  world.  But  to  give  in,  even  when  he  was 
wrong,  and  had  all  society  against  him,  was  not  the  way  of 
the  Honorable  John.  He  had  kept  the  Diamond,  in  flat  de- 
fiance of  assassination,  in  India.  He  kept  the  Diamond,  in 
flat  defiance  of  public  opinion,  in  England.  There  you  have 
the  portrait  of  the  man  before  you,  as  in  a  picture :  a  character 
that  braved  every  thing ;  and  a  face,  handsome  as  it  was,  that 
looked  possessed  by  the  devil. 

We  heard  diflferent  rumors  about  him  from  time  to  time. 
Sometimes  they  said  he  was  given  up  to  smoking  opium,  and 
collecting  old  books ;  sometimes  he  was  reported  to  be  trying 
strange  things  in  chemistry ;  sometimes  he  was  seen  carousing 

37 


THE  MOONSTONE 

and  amusing  himself  among  the  lowest  people  in  the  lowest 
slums  of  London.  Anyhow,  a  solitary,  vicious,  under-ground 
life  was  the  life  the  Colonel  led.  Once,  and  once  only,  after 
his  return  to  England,  I  myself  saw  him,  face  to  face. 

About  two  years  before  the  time  of  which  I  am  now  writ- 
ing, and  about  a  year  and  a  half  before  the  time  of  his  death, 
the  Colonel  came  unexpectedly  to  my  lady's  house  in  London. 
It  was  the  night  of  Miss  Rachel's  birthday,  the  twenty-first 
of  June ;  and  there  was  a  party  in  honor  of  it,  as  usual.  I 
received  a  message  from  the  footman  to  say  that  a  gentle- 
man wanted  to  see  me.  Going  up  into  the  hall,  there  I  found 
the  Colonel,  wasted,  and  worn,  and  old,  and  shabby,  and  as 
wild  and  as  wicked  as  ever. 

"Go  up  to  my  sister,"  says  he ;  "and  say  that  I  have  called 
to  wish  my  niece  many  happy  returns  of  the  day," 

He  had  made  attempts  by  letter,  more  than  once  already, 
to  be  reconciled  with  my  lady,  for  no  other  purpose,  I  am 
firmly  persuaded,  than  to  annoy  her.  But  this  w^as  the  first 
time  he  had  actually  come  to  the  house.  I  had  it  on  the  tip 
of  my  tongue  to  say  that  my  mistress  had  a  party  that  night. 
But  the  devilish  look  of  him  daunted  me.  I  went  up  stairs 
with  his  message,  and  left  him,  by  his  own  desire,  waiting  in 
the  hall.  The  servants  stood  staring  at  him,  at  a  distance, 
as  if  he  was  a  walking  engine  of  destruction,  loaded  with 
powder  and  shot,  and  likely  to  go  ofif  among  them  at  a 
moment's  notice. 

My  lady  has  a  dash — no  more — of  the  family  temper. 
"Tell  Colonel  Herncastle,"  she  said,  when  I  gave  her  her 
brother's  message,  "that  Miss  Verinder  is  engaged,  and  that 
/  decline  to  see  him."  I  tried  to  plead  for  a  civiler  answer 
than  that,  knowing  the  Colonel's  constitutional  superiority  to 
the  restraints  which  govern  gentlemen  in  general.  Quite  use- 
less !  The  family  temper  flashed  out  at  me  directly.  "When 
I  want  your  advice,"  says  my  lady,  "you  know  that  I  always 
ask  for  it.  I  don't  ask  for  it  now."  I  went  down  stairs  with 
the  message,  of  which  I  took  the  liberty  of  presenting  a  new 
and  amended  edition  of  my  own  contriving,  as  follows :  "My 
lady  and  Miss  Rachel  regret  that  they  are  engaged,  Colonel ; 
and  beg  to  be  excused  having  the  honor  of  seeing  you." 

I  expected  him  to  break  out,  even  at  that  polite  way  of 

38 


THE  MOONSTONE 

putting  it.  To  my  surprise  he  did  nothing  of  the  sort ;  he 
alarmed  me  by  taking  the  thing  with  an  unnatural  quiet.  His 
eyes,  of  a  glittering  bright  gray,  just  settled  on  me  for  a 
moment;  and  he  laughed,  not  out  of  himself,  like  other  peo- 
ple, but  into  himself,  in  a  soft,  chuckling,  horridly  mis- 
chievous way.  "Thank  you,  Betteredge,"  he  said.  "I  shall 
remember  my  niece's  birthday.'"  With  that,  he  turned  on 
his  heel,  and  walked  out  of  the  house. 

The  next  birthday  came  round,  and  we  heard  he  was  ill 
in  bed.  Six  months  afterward — that  is  to  say,  six  months 
before  the  time  I  am  now  writing  of — there  came  a  letter 
from  a  highly  respectable  clergyman  to  my  lady.  It  com- 
municated two  wonderful  things  in  the  way  of  family  news. 
First,  that  the  Colonel  had  forgiven  his  sister  on  his  death- 
bed. Second,  that  he  had  forgiven  every  body  else,  and  had 
made  a  most  edifying  end.  I  have  myself,  in  spite  of  the 
bishops  and  the  clergy,  an  unfeigned  respect  for  the  Church ; 
but  I  am  firmly  persuaded,  at  the  same  time,  that  the  devil 
remained  in  undisturbed  possession  of  the  Honorable  John, 
and  that  the  last  abominable  act  in  the  life  of  that  abomina- 
ble man  was  (saving  your  presence)  to  take  the  clergyman  in ! 

This  was  the  sum  total  of  what  I  had  to  tell  Mr.  Franklin. 
I  remarked  that  he  listened  more  and  more  eagerly  the  longer 
I  went  on.  Also,  that  the  story  of  the  Colonel  being  sent 
away  from  his  sister's  door,  on  the  occasion  of  his  niece's 
birthday,  seemed  to  strike  Mr.  Franklin  like  a  shot  that  had 
hit  the  mark.  Though  he  didn't  acknowledge  it,  I  saw  that 
I  had  made  him  uneasy,  plainly  enough,  in  his  face. 

"You  have  said  your  say,  Betteredge,"  he  remarked.  "It's 
my  turn  now.  Before,  however,  I  tell  you  what  discoveries 
I  have  made  in  London,  and  how  I  came  to  be  mixed  up  in 
this  matter  of  the  Diamond,  I  want  to  know  one  thing.  You 
look,  my  old  friend,  as  if  you  didn't  quite  understand  the 
object  to  be  answered  by  this  consultation  of  ours.  Do  your 
looks  belie  you?" 

"No,  sir,"  I  said.  "My  looks,  on  this  occasion  at  any  rate, 
tell  the  truth." 

"In  that  case,"  says  Mr.  Franklin,  "suppose  I  put  you  up 
to  my  point  of  view  before  we  go  any  further.     I  see  three 

39 


THE  MOONSTONE 

very  serious  questions  involved  in  the  Colonel's  birthday- 
gift  to  my  cousin  Rachel.  Follow  me  carefully,  Betteredge; 
and  count  me  off  on  your  fingers,  if  it  will  help  you,"  says 
Mr.  Franklin,  with  a  certain  pleasure  in  showing  how  clear- 
headed he  could  be,  which  reminded  me  wonderfully  of  old 
times  when  he  was  a  boy.  "Question  the  first :  Was  the 
Colonel's  Diamond  the  object  of  a  conspiracy  in  India? 
Question  the  second :  Has  the  conspiracy  followed  the  Col- 
onel's Diamond  to  England  ?  Question  the  third :  Did  the 
Colonel  know  the  conspiracy  followed  the  Diamond ;  and 
has  he  purposely  left  a  legacy  of  trouble  and  danger  to  his 
sister,  through  the  innocent  medium  of  his  sister's  child? 
That  is  what  I  am  driving  at,  Betteredge.  Don't  let  me 
frighten  you." 

It  was  all  very  well  to  say  that,  but  he  had  frightened  me. 

If  he  was  right,  here  was  our  quiet  English  house  sud- 
denly invaded  by  a  devilish  Indian  Diamond — bringing  after 
it  a  conspiracy  of  living  rogues,  set  loose  on  us  by  the  ven- 
geance of  a  dead  man.  There  was  our  situation,  as  revealed 
to  me  in  Mr.  Franklin's  last  words !  Who  ever  heard  the 
like  of  it — in  the  nineteenth  century,  mind ;  in  an  age  of  prog- 
ress and  in  a  country  which  rejoices  in  the  blessings  of  the 
British  constitution?  Nobody  ever  heard  the  like  of  it,  and, 
consequently,  nobody  can  be  expected  to  believe  it.  I  shall 
go  on  with  my  story,  however,  in  spite  of  that. 

When  you  get  a  sudden  alarm,  of  the  soft  that  I  had  got 
now,  nine  times  out  of  ten  the  place  you  feel  it  in  is  your 
stomach.  When  you  feel  it  in  your  stomach  your  attention 
wanders,  and  you  begin  to  fidget.  I  fidgeted  silently  in  my 
place  on  the  sand.  Mr.  Franklin  noticed  me,  contending  with 
a  perturbed  stomach,  or  mind,  which  you  please — they  mean 
the  same  thing — and,  checking  himself  just  as  he  was  start- 
ing with  his  part  of  the  story,  said  to  me,  sharply,  "What  do 
you  want?" 

What  did  I  want?  I  didn't  tell  h{)n:  but  I'll  tell  you,  in 
confidence.  I  wanted  a  whiff  of  my  pipe,  and  a  turn  at  Rob- 
inson Crusoe. 


40 


THE  MOONSTONE 


CHAPTER   VI. 


KEEPING  my  private  sentiments  to  myself,  I  respect- 
fully requested  Mr.  Franklin  to  go  on.  Mr.  Franklin 
replied,  "Don't  fidget,  Betteredge,"  and  went  on. 

Our  young  gentleman's  first  words  informed  me  that  his 
discoveries,  concerning  the  wicked  Colonel  and  the  Diamond, 
had  begun  with  a  visit  which  he  had  paid,  before  he  came 
to  us,  to  his  father's  lawyer  at  Hampstead.  A  chance  word 
dropped  by  Mr.  Franklin,  when  the  two  were  alone,  one  day, 
after  dinner,  revealed  that  he  had  been  charged  by  his  father 
with  a  birthday  present  to  be  taken  to  Miss  Rachel.  One 
thing  led  to  another ;  and  it  ended  in  the  lawyer  mentioning 
what  the  present  really  was,  and  how  the  friendly  connection 
between  the  late  Colonel  and  Mr.  Blake,  Senior,  had  taken 
its  rise.  The  facts  here  are  really  so  extraordinary  that  I 
doubt  if  I  can  trust  my  own  language  to  do  justice  to  them. 
I  prefer  trying  to  report  Mr.  Franklin's  discoveries,  as  nearly 
as  may  be,  in  Mr.  Franklin's  own  words. 

"You  remember  the  time,  Betteredge,"  he  said,  "when  my 
father  was  trying  to  prove  his  title  to  that  unlucky  Dukedom  ? 
Well !  that  was  also  the  time  when  my  uncle  Herncastle  re- 
turned from  India.  My  father  discovered  that  his  brother- 
in-law  was  in  possession  of  certain  papers  which  were  likely 
to  be  of  service  to  him  in  his  lawsuit.  He  called  on  the 
Colonel,  on  pretense  of  welcoming  him  back  to  England.  The 
Colonel  was  not  to  be  deluded  in  that  way.  'You  want  some- 
thing,' he  said,  'or  you  would  never  have  compromised  your 
reputation  by  calling  on  me.'  My  father  saw  the  one  chance 
for  him  was  to  show  his  hand :  he  admitted  at  once  that  he 
wanted  the  papers.  The  Colonel  asked  for  a  day  to  consider 
his  answer.  His  answer  came  in  the  shape  of  a  most  extraor- 
dinary letter,  which  my  friend  the  lawyer  showed  me.  The 
Colonel  began  by  saying  that  he  wanted  something  of  my 
father,  and  that  he  begged  to  propose  an  exchange  of  friendly 
services  between  them.  The  fortune  of  war,  that  was  the 
expression  he  used,  had  placed  him  in  possession  of  one  of 
the  largest  Diamonds  in  the  world ;  and  he  had  reason  to 
believe  that  neither  he  nor  his  precious  jewel  was  safe  in 

41 


THE  MOONSTONE 

any  house,  in  any  quarter  of  the  globe,  which  they  occupied 
together.  Under  these  alarming  circumstances  he  had  deter- 
mined to  place  his  Diamond  in  the  keeping  of  another  person. 
That  person  was  not  expected  to  run  any  risk.  He  might 
deposit  the  precious  stone  in  any  place  especially  guarded  and 
set  apart — like  a  banker's  or  jeweler's  strong-room — for  the 
safe  custody  of  valuables  of  high  price.  His  main  personal 
responsibility  in  the  matter  was  to  be  of  the  passive  kind.  •  He 
was  to  undertake — either  by  himself,  or  by  a  trustworthy 
representative — to  receive  at  a  pre-arranged  address,  on  cer- 
tain pre-arranged  days  in  every  year,  a  note  from  the  Colonel, 
simply  stating  the  fact  that  he  was  a  living  man  at  that  date. 
In  the  event  of  the  date  passing  over  without  the  note  being 
received,  the  Colonel's  silence  might  be  taken  as  a  sure  token 
of  the  Colonel's  death  by  murder.  In  that  case,  and  in  no  ' 
other,  certain  sealed  instructions  relating  to  the  disposal  of 
the  Diamond,  and  deposited  with  it,  were  to  be  opened,  and 
followed  implicitly.  If  my  father  chose  to  accept  this  strange 
charge,  the  Colonel's  papers  were  at  his  disposal  in  return. 
That  was  the  letter." 

"What  did  your  father  do,  sir?"  I  asked. 

"Do?"  says  Mr.  Franklin.  "I'll  tell  you  what  he  did.  He 
brought  the  invaluable  faculty  called  common  sense  to  bear 
on  the  Colonel's  letter.  The  whole  thing,  he  declared,  was 
simply  absurd.  Somewhere  in  his  Indian  wanderings  the  Col- 
onel had  picked  up  with  some  wretched  crystal  which  he  took 
for  a  diamond.  As  for  the  danger  of  his  being  murdered, 
and  the  precautions  devised  to  preserve  his  life  and  his  piece 
of  crystal,  this  was  the  nineteenth  century,  and  any  man  in 
his  senses  had  only  to  apply  to  the  police.  The  Colonel  had 
been  a  notorious  opium-eater  for  years  past ;  and,  if  the  only 
way  of  getting  at  the  valuable  papers  he  possessed  was  by 
accepting  a  matter  of  opium  as  a  matter  of  fact,  my  father 
was  quite  willing  to  take  the  ridiculous  responsibility  imposed 
upon  him — all  the  more  readily  that  it  involved  no  trouble  to 
himself.  The  Diamond  and  the  sealed  instructions  went  into 
his  banker's  strong-room,  and  the  Colonel's  letters,  period- 
ically reporting  him  a  living  man,  were  received  and  opened 
by  the  lawyer,  as  my  father's  representative.  No  sensible 
person,  in  a  similar  position,  could  have  viewed  the  matter 

42 


THE  MOONSTONE 

in  any  other  way.  Nothing  in  this  world,  Betteredge,  is  prob- 
able unless  it  appeals  to  our  own  trumpery  experience ;  and 
we  only  believe  in  a  romance  when  we  see  it  in  a  news- 
paper." 

It  was  plain  to  me  from  this,  that  Mr.  Franklin  thought 
his  father's  notion  about  the  Colonel  hasty  and  wrong. 

"What  is  your  own  private  opinion  about  the  matter,  sir?" 
I  asked. 

"Let's  finish  the  story  of  the  Colonel  first,"  says  Mr.  Frank- 
lin. "There  is  a  curious  want  of  system,  Betteredge,  in  the 
English  mind ;  and  your  question,  my  old  friend,  is  an  in- 
stance of  it.  When  we  are  not  occupied  in  making  machinery, 
we  are,  mentally  speaking,  the  most  slovenly  people  in  the 
universe." 

"So  much,"  I  thought  to  myself,  "for  a  foreign  education ! 
He  has  learned  that  way  of  girding  at  us  in  France,  I  sup- 
pose." 

Mr.  Franklin  took  up  the  lost  thread,  and  went  on. 

"My  father,"  he  said,  "got  the  papers  he  wanted,  and 
never  saw  his  brother-in-law  again,  from  that  time.  Year 
after  year,  on  the  pre-arranged  days,  the  pre-arranged  letter 
came  from  the  Colonel,  and  was  opened  by  the  lawyer.  I 
have  seen  the  letters,  in  a  heap,  all  of  them  written  in  the 
same  brief,  business-like  form  of  words  :  'Sir, — This  is  to 
certify  that  I  am  still  a  living  man.  Let  the  Diamond  be. 
John  Herncastle.'  That  was  all  he  ever  wrote,  and  that  came 
regularly  to  the  day ;  until  some  six  or  eight  months  since, 
when  the  form  of  the  letter  varied  for  the  first  time.  It  ran 
now :  'Sir, — They  tell  me  I  am  dying.  Come  to  me,  and 
help  me  to  make  my  will.'  The  lawyer  went,  and  found  him. 
in  the  little  suburban  villa,  surrounded  by  its  own  grounds, 
in  which  he  had  lived  alone  ever  since  he  had  left  India.  He 
had  dogs,  cats,  and  birds  to  keep  him  company ;  but  no  human 
being  near  him,  except  the  person  who  came  daily  to  do  the 
housework,  and  the  doctor  at  the  bedside.  The  will  was  a 
very  simple  matter.  The  Colonel  had  dissipated  the  greater 
part  of  his  fortune  in  his  chemical  investigations.  His  will 
began  and  ended  in  three  clauses,  which  he  dictated  from  his 
bed,  in  perfect  possession  of  his  faculties.  The  first  clause 
provided  for  the  safe-keeping  and  support  of  his  animals. 

43 


THE  MOONSTONE 

The  second  founded  a  professorship  of  experimental  chem- 
istry at  a  northern  university.  The  third  bequeathed  the 
Moonstone  as  a  birthday  present  to  his  niece,  on  condition 
that  my  father  would  act  as  executor.  My  father  at  first  re- 
fused to  act.  On  second  thoughts,  however,  he  gave  way, 
partly  because  he  was  assured  that  the  executorship  would 
involve  him  in  no  trouble ;  partly  because  the  lawyer  sug- 
gested, in  Rachel's  interest,  that  the  Diamond  might  be  worth 
something,  after  all." 

"Did  the  Colonel  give  any  reason,  sir,"  I  inquired,  "why 
he  left  the  Diamond  to  Miss  Rachel  ?" 

"He  not  only  gave  the  reason — he  had  the  reason  written 
in  his  will,"  said  Mr.  Franklin.  "I  have  got  an  extract, 
which  you  shall  see  presently.  Don't  be  slovenly-minded, 
Betteredge!  One  thing  at  a  time.  You  have  heard  about 
the  Colonel's  will ;  now  you  must  hear  what  happened  after 
the  Colonel's  death.  It  was  formally  necessary  to  have  the 
Diamond  valued,  before  the  will  could  be  proved.  All  the 
jewelers  consulted,  at  once  confirmed  the  Colonel's  assertion 
that  he  possessed  one  of  the  largest  diamonds  in  the  world. 
The  question  of  accurately  valuing  it  presented  some  serious 
difficulties.  Its  size  made  it  a  phenomenon  in  the  diamond- 
market;  its  color  placed  it  in  a  category  by  itself;  and,  to 
add  to  these  elements  of  uncertainty,  there  was  a  defect,  in 
the  shape  of  a  flaw,  in  the  very  heart  of  the  stone.  Even  with 
this  last  serious  drawback,  however,  the  lowest  of  the  various 
estimates  given  was  twenty  thousand  pounds.  Conceive  my 
father's  astonishment !  He  had  been  within  a  hair's-breadth 
of  refusing  to  act  as  executor,  and  of  allowing  this  magnifi- 
cent jewel  to  be  lost  to  the  family.  The  interest  he  took  in 
the  matter  now  induced  him  to  open  the  sealed  instructions 
which  had  been  deposited  with  the  Diamond.  The  lawyer 
showed  this  document  to  me,  with  the  other  papers ;  and  it 
suggests,  to  my  mind,  a  clue  to  the  nature  of  the  conspiracy 
which  threatened  the  Colonel's  life." 

"Then  you  do  believe,  sir,"  I  said,  "that  there  w^as  a  con- 
spiracy?" 

"Not  possessing  my  father's  excellent  common  sense,"  an- 
swered Mr.  Franklin,  "I  believe  the  Colonel's  life  was  threat- 
ened, exactly  as  the  Colonel  said.     The  sealed  instructions, 

44 


THE  MOONSTONE 

as  I  think,  explain  how  it  was  that  he  died,  after  all,  quietly 
in  his  bed.  In  the  event  of  his  death  by  violence,  that  is  to 
say,  in  the  absence  of  the  regular  letter  from  him  at  the  ap- 
pointed date,  my  father  was  then  directed  to  send  the  Moon- 
stone secretly  to  Amsterdam.  It  was  to  be  deposited  in  that 
city  with  a  famous  diamond-cutter,  and  it  was  to  be  cut  up 
into  from  four  to  six  separate  stones.  The  stones  were  then 
to  be  sold  for  what  they  would  fetch,  and  the  proceeds  were 
to  be  applied  to  the  founding  of  that  professorship  of  experi- 
mental chemistry  which  the  Colonel  has  since  endowed  by  his 
will.  Now,  Betteredge,  exert  those  sharp  wits  of  yours,  and 
observe  the  conclusion  to  which  the  Colonel's  instructions 
point !" 

I  instantly  exerted  my  wits.  They  were  of  the  slovenly 
English  sort ;  and  they  consequently  muddled  it  all  until  Air. 
Franklin  took  them  in  hand,  and  pointed  out  what  they  ought 
to  see. 

"Remark,"  says  Mr.  Franklin,  "that  the  integrity  of  the 
Diamond,  as  a  whole  stone,  is  here  artfully  made  dependent 
on  the  preservation  from  violence  of  the  Colonel's  life.  He 
is  not  satisfied  with  saying  to  the  enemies  he  dreads,  'Kill 
me — and  you  will  be  no  nearer  to  the  Diamond  than  you  are 
now ;  it  is  where  you  can't  get  at  it — in  the  guarded  strong- 
room of  a  bank.'  He  says  instead,  'Kill  me — and  the  Dia- 
mond will  be  the  Diamond  no  longer ;  its  identity  will  be 
destroyed.'    What  does  that  mean?" 

Here  I  had  (as  I  thought)  a  flash  of  the  wonderful  foreign 
brightness. 

"I  know !"  I  said.  "It  means  lowering  the  value  of  the 
stone,  and  cheating  the  rogues  in  that  way !" 

"Nothing  of  the  sort,"  says  Mr.  Franklin.  "I  have  in- 
quired about  that.  The  flawed  Diamond,  cut  up,  would 
actually  fetch  more  than  the  Diamond  as  it  now  is ;  for  this 
plain  reason — that  from  four  to  six  perfect  brilliants  might 
be  cut  from  it,  which  would  be,  collectively,  worth  more 
money  than  the  large — but  imperfect — single  stone.  If  rob- 
bery for  the  purpose  of  gain  was  at  the  bottom  of  the  con- 
spiracy, the  Colonel's  instructions  absolutely  made  the  Dia- 
mond better  worth  stealing.  More  money  could  have  been 
got  for  it,  and  the  disposal  of  it  in  the  diamond-market  would 

45 


THE  MOONSTONE 

have  been  infinitely  easier,  if  it  had  passed  through  the  hands 
of  the  workmen  of  Amsterdam." 

"Lord  bless  us,  sir!"  I  burst  out.  "What  was  the  plot 
then?" 

"A  plot  organized  among  the  Indians  who  originally  owned 
the  jewel,"  says  Mr.  Franklin — "a.  plot  with  some  old  Hindoo 
superstition  at  the  bottom  of  it.  That  is  my  opinion,  con- 
firmed by  a  family  paper  which  I  have  about  me  at  this 
moment." 

I  saw  now  why  the  appearance  of  the  three  Indian  jugglers 
at  our  house  had  presented  itself  to  Mr.  Franklin  in  the  light 
of  a  circumstance  worth  noting. 

'T  don't  want  to  force  my  opinion  on  you,"  Mr.  Franklin 
went  on.  "The  idea  of  certain  chosen  servants  of  an  old 
Hindoo  superstition  devoting  themselves,  through  all  diffi- 
culties and  dangers,  to  watching  the  opportunity  of  recover- 
ing their  sacred  gem,  appears  to  me  to  be  perfectly  consistent 
with  every  thing  that  we  know  of  the  patience  of  Oriental 
races,  and  the  influence  of  Oriental  religions.  But  then  I 
am  an  imaginative  man ;  and  the  butcher,  the  baker,  and  the 
tax-gatherer  are  not  the  only  credible  realities  in  existence 
to  my  mind.  Let  the  guess  I  have  made  at  the  truth  in  this 
matter  go  for  what  it  is  worth,  and  let  us  get  on  to  the  only 
practical  question  that  concerns  us.  Does  the  conspiracy 
against  the  Moonstone  survive  the  Colonel's  death?  And 
did  the  Colonel  know  it,  when  he  left  the  birthday  gift  to  his 
niece?" 

I  began  to  see  my  lady  and  Miss  Rachel  at  the  end  of  it 
all,  now.    Not  a  word  he  said  escaped  me. 

"I  was  not  very  willing,  when  I  discovered  the  story  of 
the  Moonstone,"  said  Mr.  Franklin,  "to  be  the  means  of 
bringing  it  here.  But  my  friend,  the  lawyer,  reminded  me 
that  somebody  must  put  my  cousin's  legacy  into  my  cousin's 
hands — and  that  I  might  as  well  do  it  as  any  body  else. 
After  taking  the  Diamond  out  of  the  bank,  I  fancied  I  was 
followed  in  the  streets  by  a  shabby,  dark-complexioned  man. 
I  went  to  my  father's  house  to  pick  up  my  luggage,  and 
found  a  letter  there,  which  unexpectedly  detained  me  in 
London.  I  went  back  to  the  bank  with  the  Diamond,  and 
thought  I  saw  the  shabby  man  again.    Taking  the  Diamond 

46 


THE  MOONSTONE 

once  more  out  of  the  bank  this  morning,  I  saw  the  man  for 
the  third  time,  gave  him  the  shp,  and  started,  before  he  re- 
covered the  trace  of  me,  by  the  morning  instead  of  the  after- 
noon train.  Here  I  am,  with  the  Diamond  safe  and  sound — 
and  what  is  the  first  news  that  meets  me?  I  find  that  three 
stroUing  Indians  have  been  at  the  house,  and  that  my  arrival 
from  London,  and  something  which  I  am  expected  to  have 
about  me,  are  two  special  objects  of  investigation  to  them 
when  they  believe  themselves  to  be  alone.  I  don't  waste  time 
and  words  on  their  pouring  the  ink  into  the  boy's  hand,  and 
telling  him  to  look  in  it  for  a  man  at  a  distance,  and  for 
something  in  that  man's  pocket.  The  thing,  which  I  have 
often  seen  done  in  the  East,  is  'hocus-pocus'  in  my  opinion, 
as  it  is  in  yours.  The  present  question  for  us  to  decide  is 
whether  I  am  wrongly  attaching  a  meaning  to  a  mere  acci- 
dent? or  whether  we  really  have  evidence  of  the  Indians 
being  on  the  track  of  the  Moonstone,  the  moment  it  is  re- 
moved from  the  safe-keeping  of  the  bank  ?" 

Neither  he  nor  I  seemed  to  fancy  dealing  with  this  part 
of  the  inquiry.  We  looked  at  each  other,  and  then  we  looked 
at  the  tide,  oozing  in  smoothly,  higher  and  higher,  over  the 
Shivering  Sand. 

"What  are  you  thinking  of?"  says  Mr.  Franklin,  suddenly. 

'T  was  thinking,  sir,"  I  answered,  "that  I  should  like  to 
shy  the  Diamond  into  the  quicksand,  and  settle  the  question 
in  that  way." 

"If  you  have  got  the  value  of  the  stone  in  your  pocket," 
answered  Mr.  Franklin,  "say  so,  Betteredge,  and  in  it  goes !" 

It's  curious  to  note,  when  your  mind's  anxious,  how  very 
far  in  the  way  of  relief  a  very  small  joke  will  go.  We  found 
a  fund  of  merriment,  at  the  time,  in  the  notion  of  making 
away  with  Miss  Rachel's  lawful  property,  and  getting  Mr. 
Blake,  as  executor,  into  dreadful  trouble — though  where  the 
merriment  was  I  am  quite  at  a  loss  to  discover  now. 

Mr.  Franklin  was  the  first  to  bring  the  talk  back  to  the 
talk's  proper  purpose.  He  took  an  envelope  out  of  his  pocket, 
opened  it,  and  handed  to  me  the  paper  inside, 

"Betteredge,"  he  said,  "we  must  face  the  question  of  the 
Colonel's  motive  in  leaving  this  legacy  to  his  niece  for  my 
aunt's  sake.     Bear  in  mind  how  Lady  Verinder  treated  her 

47 


THE  MOONSTONE 

brother  from  the  time  when  he  returned  to  England,  to  the 
time  when  he  told  you  he  should  remember  his  niece's  birth- 
day.   And  read  that." 

He  gave  me  the  extract  from  the  Colonel's  will.  I  have 
got  it  by  me  while  I  write  these  words ;  and  I  copy  it,  as 
follows,  for  your  benefit : 

"Thirdly,  and  lastly,  I  give  and  bequeath  to  my  niece, 
Rachel  Verinder,  daughter  and  only  child  of  my  sister,  Julia 
Verinder,  widow,  the  yellow  Diamond  belonging  to  me,  and 
known  in  the  East  by  the  name  of  The  Moonstone — subject 
to  this  condition,  that  her  mother,  the  said  Julia  Verinder, 
shall  be  living  at  the  time.  And  I  hereby  desire  my  executor, 
in  that  event,  to  give  my  Diamond,  either  by  his  own  hands 
or  by  the  hands  of  some  trustworthy  representative  whom  he 
shall  appoint,  into  the  personal  possession  of  my  said  niece 
Rachel,  on  her  next  birthday  after  my  death,  and  in  the  pres- 
ence of  my  sister,  the  said  Julia  Verinder.  And  furthermore, 
I  desire  also  that  my  sister,  as  aforesaid,  may  be  informed,  by 
means  of  a  true  copy  of  this,  the  third  and  last  clause  of  my 
will,  that  I  give  the  Diamond  to  her  daughter  Rachel,  in  token 
of  my  free  forgiveness  of  the  injury  which  her  conduct  toward 
me  has  been  the  means  of  inflicting  on  my  reputation  in  my 
lifetime ;  and  especially  in  proof  that  I  pardon,  as  becomes  a 
dying  man,  the  insult  offered  to  me  as  an  officer  and  a  gentle- 
man, when  her  servant,  by  her  orders,  closed  the  door  of  her 
house  against  me,  on  the  occasion  of  her  daughter's  birth- 
day." 

More  words  followed  these,  providing,  if  my  lady  was 
dead,  or  if  Miss  Rachel  was  dead,  at  the  time  of  the  testa- 
tor's decease,  for  the  Diamond  being  sent  to  Holland,  in 
accordance  with  the  sealed  instructions  originally  deposited 
with  it.  The  proceeds  of  the  sale  were,  in  that  case,  to  be 
added  to  the  money  already  left  by  the  will  for  the  professor- 
ship of  chemistry  at  the  university  in  the  north. 

I  handed  the  paper  back  to  Mr.  Franklin,  sorely  troubled 
what  to  say  to  him.  Up  to  that  moment  my  own  opinion  had 
been,  as  you  know,  that  the  Colonel  had  died  as  wickedly  as 
he  had  lived.  I  don't  say  the  copy  from  his  will  actually  con- 
verted me  from  that  opinion  :  I  only  say  it  staggered  me. 

"Well,"  says  Mr.  Franklin,  "now  you  have  read  the  Col- 

48 


THE  MOONSTONE 

onel's  own  statement,  what  do  you  say?  In  bringing  the 
Moonstone  to  my  aunt's  house,  am  I  serving  his  vengeance 
bhndfold,  or  am  I  vindicating  him  in  the  character  of  a  peni- 
tent and  Christian  man?" 

"It  seems  hard  to  say,  sir,"  I  answered,  "that  he  died  with 
a  horrid  revenge  in  his  heart,  and  a  horrid  He  on  his  Ups. 
God  alone  knows  the  truth.    Don't  ask  me." 

Mr.  Frankhn  sat  twisting  and  turning  the  extract  from  the 
will  in  his  fingers,  as  if  he  expected  to  squeeze  the  truth  out 
of  it  in  that  manner.  He  altered  quite  remarkably  at  the 
same  time.  From  being  brisk  and  bright,  he  now  became, 
most  unaccountably,  a  slow,  solemn,  and  pondering  young 
man. 

"This  question  has  two  sides,"  he  said.  "An  objective  side 
and  a  subjective  side.    Which  are  we  to  take?" 

He  had  had  a  German  education  as  well  as  a  French.  One 
of  the  two  had  been  in  undisturbed  possession  of  him,  as  I 
supposed,  up  to  this  time.  And  now,  as  well  as  I  could  make 
out,  the  other  was  taking  its  place.  It  is  one  of  my  rules  in 
life  never  to  notice  what  I  don't  understand.  I  steered  a  mid- 
dle course  between  the  objective  side  and  the  subjective  side. 
In  plain  English,  I  stared  hard  and  said  nothing. 

"Let's  extract  the  inner  meaning  of  this,"  says  Mr.  Frank- 
lin. "Why  did  my  uncle  leave  the  Diamond  to  Rachel?  Why 
didn't  he  leave  it  to  my  aunt?" 

"That's  not  beyond  guessing,  sir,  at  any  rate,"  I  said. 
"Colonel  Herncastle  knew  my  lady  well  enough  to  know  that 
she  would  refuse  to  accept  any  legacy  that  came  to  her  from 
him." 

"How  did  he  know  that  Rachel  might  not  refuse  to  accept 
it,  too?" 

"Is  there  any  young  lady  in  existence,  sir,  who  could  resist 
the  temptation  of  accepting  such  a  birthday  present  as  The 
Moonstone  ?" 

"That's  the  subjective  view,"  says  Mr.  Franklin.  "It  does 
you  great  credit,  Betteredge,  to  be  able  to  take  the  subjective 
view.  But  there's  another  mystery  about  the  Colonel's  legacy 
which  is  not  accounted  for  yet.  How  are  we  to  explain 
his  only  giving  Rachel  her  birthday  present  conditionally  on 
her  mother  being  alive?" 

49 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"I  don't  want  to  slander  a  dead  man,  sir,"  I  answered. 
"But  if  he  has  purposely  left  a  legacy  of  trouble  and  danger 
to  his  sister,  by  the  means  of  her  child,  it  must  be  a  legacy 
made  conditional  on  his  sister's  being  alive  to  feel  the  vexa- 
tion of  it." 

"Oh  !  That's  your  interpretation  of  his  motive,  is  it  ?  The 
subjective  interpretation  again !  Have  you  ever  been  in  Ger- 
many, Betteredge?" 

"No,  sir.    What's  your  interpretation,  if  you  please?" 

"I  can  see,"  says  Mr.  Franklin,  "that  the  Colonel's  object 
may,  quite  possibly,  have  been — not  to  benefit  his  niece,  whom 
he  had  never  even  seen — but  to  prove  to  his  sister  that  he 
had  died  forgiving  her,  and  to  prove  it  very  prettily  by  means 
of  a  present  made  to  her  child.  There  is  a  totally  different 
explanation  from  yours,  Betteredge,  taking  its  rise  in  a  sub- 
jective-objective point  of  view.  From  all  I  can  see,  one  inter- 
pretation is  just  as  likely  to  be  right  as  the  other." 

Having  brought  matters  to  this  pleasant  and  comforting 
issue,  Mr.  Franklin  appeared  to  think  that  he  had  completed 
all  that  was  required  of  him.  He  laid  down  flat  on  his  back 
on  the  sand,  and  asked  what  was  to  be  done  next. 

He  had  been  so  clever  and  clear-headed,  before  he  began 
to  talk  the  foreign  gibberish,  and  had  so  completely  taken 
the  lead  in  the  business  up  to  the  present  time,  that  I  was 
quite  unprepared  for  such  a  sudden  change  as  he  now  exhib- 
ited in  this  helpless  leaning  upon  me.  It  was  not  till  later 
that  I  learned — by  assistance  of  Miss  Rachel,  who  was  the 
first  to  make  the  discovery — that  these  puzzling  shifts  and 
transformations  in  Mr.  Franklin  were  due  to  the  effect  on 
him  of  his  foreign  training.  At  the  age  when  we  are  all  of 
us  most  apt  to  take  our  coloring,  in  the  form  of  a  reflection 
from  the  coloring  of  other  people,  he  had  been  sent  abroad, 
and  had  been  passed  on,  from  one  nation  to  another,  before 
there  was  time  for  any  one  coloring  more  than  another  to 
settle  itself  on  him  firmly.  As  a  consequence  of  this,  he  had 
come  back  with  so  many  different  sides  to  his  character, 
all  more  or  less  unfinished,  and  all  more  or  less  jarring  with 
each  other,  that  he  seemed  to  pass  his  life  in  a  state  of  per- 
petual contradiction  with  himself.  He  could  be  a  busy  man, 
and  a  lazy  man ;  cloudy  in  the  head,  and  clear  in  the  head ; 

5° 


THE  MOONSTONE 

a  model  of  determination,  and  a  spectacle  of  helplessness,  all 
together.  He  had  his  French  side,  and  his  German  side,  and 
his  Italian  side — the  original  English  foundation  showing 
through,  every  now  and  then,  as  much  as  to  say,  "Here  I  am, 
sorely  transmogrified,  as  you  see,  but  there's  something  of 
me  left  at  the  bottom  of  him  still."  Miss  Rachel  used  to  re- 
mark that  the  Italian  side  of  him  was  uppermost  on  those 
occasions  when  he  unexpectedly  gave  in  and  asked  you,  in  his 
nice,  sweet-tempered  way,  to  take  his  own  responsibilities  on 
your  shoulders.  You  will  do  him  no  injustice,  I  think,  if  you 
conclude  that  the  Italian  side  of  him  was  uppermost  now. 

"Isn't  it  your  business,  sir,"  I  asked,  "to  know  what  to  do 
next?     Surely  it  can't  be  mine!" 

Mr.  Franklin  did  not  appear  to  see  the  force  of  my  ques- 
tion— not  being  in  a  position  at  the  time  to  see  any  thing  but. 
the  sky  over  his  head. 

"I  don't  want  to  alarm  my  aunt  without  reason,"  he  said. 
"And  I  don't  want  to  leave  her  without  what  may  be  a  need- 
ful warning.  If  you  were  in  my  place,  Betteredge,  tell  me, 
in  one  word,  what  would  you  do  ?" 

In  one  word  I  told  him,  "Wait." 

"With  all  my  heart,"  says  Mr.  Franklin.     "How  long?" 

I  proceeded  to  explain  myself. 

"As  I  understand  it,  sir."  I  said,  "somebody  is  bound  to 
put  this  plaguey  Diamond  into  Miss  Rachel's  hands  on  her 
birthday — and  you  may  as  well  do  it  as  another.  Very  good. 
This  is  the  twenty-fifth  of  May,  and  the  birthday  is  on  the 
twenty-first  of  June.  We  have  got  close  on  four  weeks  before 
us.  Let's  wait  and  see  what  happens  in  that  time ;  and  let's 
warn  my  lady  or  not,  as  the  circumstances  direct  us." 

"Perfect,  Betteredge,  as  far  as  it  goes !"  says  ]\Ir.  Franklin. 
"But,  between  this  and  the  birthday,  what's  to  be  done  with 
the  Diamond  ?" 

"What  your  father  did  with  it,  to  be  sure,  sir !"  I  answered. 
"Your  father  put  it  in  the  safe-keeping  of  a  bank  in  London. 
You  put  it  in  the  safe-keeping  of  the  bank  at  Frizinghall." 
Frizinghall  was  our  nearest  town,  and  the  Bank  of  England 
wasn't  safer  than  the  bank  there.  "If  I  were  you,  sir,"  I 
added,  "I  would  ride  straight  away  with  it  to  Frizinghall  be- 
fore the  ladies  come  back." 

51 


THE  MOONSTONE 

The  prospect  of  doing  something — and,  what  is  more,  of 
doing  that  something  on  a  horse — brought  Mr.  Franklin  up 
like  lightning  from  the  flat  of  his  back.  He  sprang  to  his 
feet,  and  pulled  me  up,  without  ceremony,  on  to  mine.  "Bet- 
teredge,  you  are  worth  your  weight  in  gold,"  he  said.  "Come 
along,  and  saddle  the  best  horse  in  the  stables  directly !" 

Here,  God  bless  it,  was  the  original  English  foundation 
of  him  showing  through  all  the  foreign  varnish  at  last !  Here 
was  the  Master  Franklin  I  remembered,  coming  out  again  in 
the  good  old  way  at  the  prospect  of  a  ride,  and  reminding  me 
of  the  good  old  times !  Saddle  a  horse  for  him !  I  would 
have  saddled  a  dozen  horses  if  he  could  only  have  ridden 
them  all ! 

We  went  back  to  the  house  in  a  hurry ;  we  had  the  fleetest 
horse  in  the  stables  saddled  in  a  hurry ;  and  Mr.  Franklin 
rattled  off  in  a  hurry,  to  lodge  the  cursed  Diamond  once  more 
in  the  strong-room  of  a  bank.  When  I  heard  the  last  of  his 
horse's  hoofs  on  the  drive,  and  when  I  turned  about  in  the 
yard  and  found  I  was  alone  again,  I  felt  half  inclined  to  ask 
myself  if  I  hadn't  waked  up  from  a  dream. 


CHAPTER  VH. 

WHILE  I  was  in  this  bewildered  frame  of  mind,  sorely 
needing  a  little  quiet  time  by  myself  to  put  me  right 
again,  my  daughter  Penelope  got  in  my  way,  just  as  her  late 
mother  used  to  get  in  my  way  on  the  stairs,  and  instantly 
summoned  me  to  tell  her  all  that  had  passed  at  the  conference 
between  Mr.  Franklin  and  me.  Under  present  circumstances, 
the  one  thing  to  be  done  was  to  clap  the  extinguisher  upon 
Penelope's  curiosity  on  the  spot.  I  accordingly  replied  that 
Mr.  Franklin  and  I  had  both  talked  of  foreign  politics  till  we 
could  talk  no  longer,  and  had  then  mutually  fallen  asleep  in 
the  heat  of  the  sun.  Try  that  sort  of  answer  when  your  wife 
or  your  daughter  next  worries  you  with  an  awkward  ques- 
tion at  an  awkward  time,  and  depend  on  the  natural  sweet- 
ness of  women  for  kissing  and  making  it  up  again  at  the  next 
opportunity. 

52 


THE  MOONSTONE 

The  afternoon  wore  on,  and  my  lady  and  ]\Iiss  Rachel 
came  back. 

Needless  to  say  how  astonished  they  were  when  they  heard 
that  Mr.  Franklin  Blake  had  arrived,  and  had  gone  off  again 
on  horseback.  Needless  also  to  say,  that  they  asked  awkward 
questions  directly,  and  that  the  "foreign  politics"  and  the 
"falling  asleep  in  the  sun"  wouldn't  serve  a  second  time  over 
with  them.  Being  at  the  end  of  my  invention,  I  said  Mr. 
Franklin's  arrival  by  the  early  train  was  entirely  attributable 
to  one  of  Mr.  Franklin's  freaks.  Being  asked,  upon  that, 
whether  his  galloping  off  again  on  horseback  was  another  of 
Mr.  Franklin's  freaks,  I  said,  "Yes,  it  was" ;  and  slipped  out 
of  it — I  think  very  cleverly — in  that  way. 

Having  got  over  my  difficulties  with  the  ladies,  I  found 
more  difficulties  waiting  for  me  when  I  went  back  to  my  own 
room.  In  came  Penelope — with  the  natural  sweetness  of 
women — to  kiss  and  make  it  up  again ;  and — with  the  natural 
curiosity  of  women — to  ask  another  question.  This  time,  she 
only  wanted  me  to  tell  her  what  was  the  matter  with  our 
second   house-maid,    Rosanna   Spearman. 

After  leaving  Mr.  Franklin  and  me  at  the  Shivering  Sand, 
Rosanna,  it  appeared,  had  returned  to  the  house  in  a  very 
unaccountable  state  of  mind.  She  had  turned,  if  Penelope 
was  to  be  believed,  all  the  colors  of  the  rainbow.  She  had 
been  merry  without  reason,  and  sad  without  reason.  In  one 
breath  she  had  asked  hundreds  of  questions  about  Mr.  Frank- 
lin Blake,  and  in  another  breath  she  had  been  angry  with 
Penelope  for  presuming  to  suppose  that  a  strange  gentleman 
could  possess  any  interest  for  her.  She  had  been  surprised 
smiling  and  scribbling  Mr.  Franklin's  name  inside  her  work- 
box.  She  had  been  surprised  again  crying  and  looking  at 
her  deformed  shoulder  in  the  glass.  Had  she  and  Mr.  Frank- 
lin known  any  thing  of  each  other  before  to-day?  Quite  im- 
possible! Had  they  heard  any  thing  of  each  other?  Impos- 
sible again !  I  could  speak  to  Mr.  Franklin's  astonishment  as 
genuine,  when  he  saw  how  the  girl  stared  at  him.  Penelope 
could  speak  to  the  girl's  inquisitiveness  as  genuine,  when  she 
asked  the  questions  about  Mr.  Franklin.  The  conference  be- 
tween us.  conducted  in  this  way,  was  tiresome  enough,  until 
my  daughter  suddenly  ended  it  by  bursting  out  with  what  I 

53 


THE  MOONSTONE 

thought  the  most  monstrous  supposition  I  had  ever  heard  in 
my  hfe. 

"Father!"  says  Penelope,  quite  seriously,  "there's  only  one 
explanation  of  it.  Rosanna  had  fallen  in  love  with  Mr. 
Franklin  Blake  at  first  sight !" 

You  have  heard  of  beautiful  young  ladies  falling  in  love 
at  first  sight,  and  have  thought  it  natural  enough.  But  a 
house-maid  out  of  a  Reformatory,  with  a  plain  face  and  a 
deformed  shoulder,  falling  in  love,  at  first  sight,  with  a  gentle- 
man who  comes  on  a  visit  to  her  mistress's  house,  match  me 
that,  in  the  way  of  an  absurdity,  out  of  any  story-book  in 
Christendom,  if  you  can !  I  laughed  till  the  tears  rolled  down 
my  cheeks.  Penelope  resented  my  merriment  in  rather  a 
strange  way.  "I  never  knew  you  cruel  before,  father,"  she 
said,  very  gently,  and  went  out. 

My  girl's  words  fell  on  me  like  a  splash  of  cold  water.  I 
was  savage  with  myself,  for  feeling  uneasy  in  myself  the 
moment  she  had  spoken  them — but  so  it  was.  We  will  change 
the  subject,  if  you  please.  I  am  sorry  I  drifted  into  writing 
about  it,  and  not  without  reason,  as  you  will  see  when  we 
have  gone  on  together  a  little  longer. 

The  evening  came,  and  the  dressing-bell  for  dinner  rang, 
before  Mr.  Franklin  returned  from  Frizinghall.  I  took  his 
hot  water  up  to  his  room  myself,  expecting  to  hear,  after  this 
extraordinary  delay,  that  something  had  happened.  To  my 
great  disappointment,  and  no  doubt  to  yours  also,  nothing 
had  happened.  He  had  not  met  with  the  Indians,  either  going 
or  returning.  He  had  deposited  the  Moonstone  in  the  bank 
— describing  it  merely  as  a  valuable  of  great  price — and  he 
had  got  the  receipt  for  it  safe  in  his  pocket.  I  went  down 
stairs,  feeling  that  this  was  rather  a  flat  ending,  after  all  our 
excitement  about  the  Diamond  earlier  in  the  day. 

How  the  meeting  between  Mr.  Franklin  and  his  aunt  and 
cousin  went  ofif  is  more  than  I  can  tell  you. 

I  would  have  given  something  to  have  waited  at  table 
that  day.  But  in  my  position  in  the  household,  waiting  at 
dinner,  except  on  high  family  festivals,  was  letting  down  my 
dignity  in  the  eyes  of  the  other  servants — a  thing  which  my 
lady  considered  me  quite  prone  enough  to  do  already  with- 

54 


THE  MOONSTONE 

out  seeking  occasions  for  it.  The  news  brought  to  me  from 
the  upper  regions  that  evening  came  from  Penelope  and  the 
footman.  Penelope  mentioned  that  she  had  never  known 
Miss  Rachel  so  particular  about  the  dressing  of  her  hair,  and 
had  never  seen  her  look  so  bright  and  pretty  as  she  did  when 
she  went  down  to  meet  Mr.  Franklin  in  the  drawing-room. 
The  footman's  report  was,  that  the  preservation  of  a  respect- 
ful composure  in  the  presence  of  his  betters,  and  the  waiting 
on  Mr.  Franklin  Blake  at  dinner,  were  two  of  the  hardest 
things  to  reconcile  with  each  other  that  had  ever  tried  his 
training  in  service.  Later  in  the  evening  we  heard  them  sing- 
ing and  playing  duets,  Mr.  Franklin  piping  high,  Miss  Rachel 
piping  higher,  and  my  lady,  on  the  piano,  following  them,  as 
it  were,  over  hedge  and  ditch,  and  seeing  them  safe  through 
in  a  manner  most  wonderful  and  pleasant  to  hear  through 
the  open  windows,  on  the  terrace  at  night.  Later  still,  I  went 
to  Mr.  Franklin  in  the  smoking-room,  with  the  soda-water 
and  brandy,  and  found  that  Miss  Rachel  had  put  the  Dia- 
mond clean  out  of  his  head.  "She's  the  most  charming  girl 
I  have  seen  since  I  came  back  to  England !"  was  all  I  could 
extract  from  him,  when  I  endeavored  to  lead  the  conversation 
to  more  serious  things. 

Toward  midnight  I  went  round  the  house  to  lock  up, 
accompanied  by  my  second  in  command,  Samuel,  the  foot- 
man, as  usual.  When  all  doors  were  made  fast,  except  the 
side-door  that  opened  on  the  terrace,  I  sent  Samuel  to  bed, 
and  stepped  out  for  a  breath  of  fresh  air  before  I  too  went 
to  bed  in  my  turn. 

The  night  was  still  and  close,  and  the  moon  was  at  the  full 
in  the  heavens.  It  was  so  silent  out-of-doors,  that  I  heard 
from  time  to  time,  very  faint  and  low,  the  fall  of  the  sea,  as 
the  ground-swell  heaved  it  in  on  the  sand-bank  near  the 
mouth  of  our  little  bay.  As  the  house  stood,  the  terrace  side 
was  the  dark  side;  but  the  broad  moonlight  showed  fair  on 
the  gravel-walk  that  ran  along  the  next  side  to  the  terrace. 
Looking  this  way,  after  looking  up  at  the  sky,  I  saw  the 
shadow  of  a  person  in  the  moonlight  thrown  forward  from 
behind  the  corner  of  the  house. 

Being  old  and  sly,  I  forbore  to  call  out ;  but  being  also, 
unfortunately,  old  and  heavy,  my  feet  betrayed  me  on  the 

55 


THE  MOONSTONE 

gravel.  Before  I  could  steal  suddenly  round  the  corner,  as  I 
had  proposed,  I  heard  lighter  feet  than  mine — and  more  than 
one  pair  of  them,  as  1  thought — retreating  in  a  hurry.  By 
the  time  I  had  got  to  the  corner,  the  trespassers,  whoever 
they  were,  had  run  into  the  shrubbery  at  the  off-side  of  the 
walk,  and  were  hidden  from  sight  among  the  thick  trees  and 
bushes  in  that  part  of  the  grounds.  From  the  shrubbery 
they  could  easily  make  their  way  over  our  fence  into  the 
road.  If  I  had  been  forty  years  younger  I  might  have  had 
a  chance  of  catching  them  before  they  got  clear  of  our  prem- 
ises. As  it  was,  I  went  back  to  set  agoing  a  younger  pair  of 
legs  than  mine.  Without  disturbing  any  body,  Samuel  and  I 
got  a  couple  of  guns  and  went  all  round  the  house  and  through 
the  shrubbery.  Having  made  sure  that  no  persons  were  lurk- 
ing about  anywhere  in  our  grounds,  we  turned  back.  Passing 
over  the  walk  where  I  had  seen  the  shadow,  I  now  noticed, 
for  the  first  time,  a  little  bright  object,  lying  on  the  clean 
gravel,  under  the  light  of  the  moon.  Picking  the  object  up, 
I  discovered  that  it  was  a  small  bottle,  containing  a  thick, 
sweet-smelling  liquor,  as  black  as  ink. 

I  said  nothing  to  Samuel.  But,  remembering  what  Penel- 
ope had  told  me  about  the  jugglers,  and  the  pouring  of  the 
little  pool  of  ink  into  the  palm  of  the  boy's  hand,  I  instantly 
suspected  that  I  had  disturbed  the  three  Indians,  lurking 
about  the  house,  and  bent,  in  their  heathenish  way,  on  dis- 
covering the  whereabouts  of  the  Diamond  that  night. 


CHAPTER  VIII. 

HERE,  for  one  moment,  I  find  it  necessary  to  call  a  halt. 
On  summoning  up  my  own  recollections — and  on  get- 
ting Penelope  to  help  me,  by  consulting  her  journal — I  find 
that  we  may  pass  pretty  rapidly  over  the  interval  between 
Mr.  Franklin  Blake's  arrival  and  Miss  Rachel's  birthday.  For 
the  greater  part  of  that  time  the  days  passed  and  brought 
nothing  with  them  worth  recording.  With  your  good  leave 
then,  and  with  Penelope's  help,  I  shall  notice  certain  dates 
only  in  this  place,  reserving  to  myself  to  tell  the  story  day 

56 


THE  MOONSTONE 

by  day,  once  more,  as  soon  as  we  get  to  the  time  when  the 
business  of  the  Moonstone  became  the  chief  business  of  every 
body  in  our  house. 

This  said,  we  may  now  go  on  again — beginning,  of  course, 
with  the  bottle  of  sweet-smelhng  ink  which  I  found  on  the 
gravel-walk  at  night. 

On  the  next  morning,  the  morning  of  the  twenty-sixth,  I 
showed  Mr.  Franklin  this  article  of  jugglery,  and  told  him 
what  I  have  already  told  you.  His  opinion  was,  not  only 
that  the  Indians  had  been  lurking  about  after  the  Diamond, 
but  also  that  they  were  actually  foolish  enough  to  believe 
in  their  own  magic — meaning  thereby  the  making  of  signs 
on  a  boy's  head,  and  the  pouring  of  ink  into  a  boy's  hand, 
and  then  expecting  him  to  see  persons  and  things  beyond 
the  reach  of  human  vision.  In  our  country,  as  well  as  in 
the  East,  Mr.  Franklin  informed  me,  there  are  people  who 
practice  this  curious  hocus-pocus,  without  the  ink,  however; 
and  who  call  it  by  a  French  name,  signifying  something  like 
brightness  of  sight.  "Depend  upon  it,"  says  Mr.  Franklin, 
"the  Indians  took  it  for  granted  that  we  should  keep  the  Dia- 
mond here ;  and  they  brought  their  clairvoyant  boy  to  show 
them  the  way  to  it,  if  they  succeeded  in  getting  into  the  house 
last  night." 

"Do  you  think  they'll  try  again,  sir?"  I  asked. 

"It  depends,"  says  Mr.  Franklin,  "on  what  the  boy  can 
really  do.  If  he  can  see  the  Diamond  through  the  iron  safe 
of  the  bank  at  Frizinghall,  we  shall  be  troubled  with  no  more 
visits  from  the  Indians  for  the  present.  If  he  can't,  we  shall 
have  another  chance  of  catching  them  in  the  shrubbery  before 
many  more  nights  are  over  our  heads." 

I  waited  pretty  confidently  for  that  latter  chance;  but, 
strange  to  relate,  it  never  came. 

Whether  the  jugglers  heard,  in  the  town,  of  Mr.  Franklin 
having  been  seen  at  the  bank,  and  drew  their  conclusions 
accordingly ;  or  whether  the  boy  really  did  see  the  Diamond 
where  the  Diamond  was  now  lodged,  which  I,  for  one,  flatly 
disbelieve;  or  whether,  after  all,  it  was  a  mere  effect  of 
chance,  this,  at  any  rate,  is  the  plain  truth — not  the  ghost 
of  an  Indian  came  near  the  house  again,  through  the  weeks 
that  passed  before  Miss  Rachel's  birthday.    The  jugglers  re- 

57 


THE  MOONSTONE 

mained  in  and  about  the  town  plying  their  trade  and  Mr. 
FrankHn  and  I  remained  waiting  to  see  what  might  happen, 
and  resolute  not  to  put  the  rogues  on  their  guard  by  showing 
our  suspicions  of  them  too  soon.  With  this  report  of  the 
proceedings  on  either  side,  ends  all  that  I  have  to  say  about 
the  Indians  for  the  present. 

On  the  twenty-ninth  of  the  month.  Miss  Rachel  and  Mr. 
Franklin  hit  on  a  new  method  of  working  their  way  together 
through  the  time  which  might  otherwise  have  hung  heavy 
on  their  hands.  There  are  reasons  for  taking  particular 
notice  here  of  the  occupation  that  amused  them.  You  will 
find  it  has  a  bearing  on  something  that  is  still  to  come. 

Gentlefolks  in  general  have  a  very  awkward  rock  ahead 
in  life — the  rock  ahead  of  their  own  idleness.  Their  lives 
being,  for  the  most  part,  passed  in  looking  about  them  for 
something  to  do,  it  is  curious  to  see — especially  when  their 
tastes  are  of  what  is  called  the  intellectual  sort — how  often 
they  drift  blindfold  into  some  nasty  pursuit.  Nine  times  out 
of  ten  they  take  to  torturing  something,  or  to  spoiling  some- 
thing ;  and  they  firmly  believe  they  are  improving  their  minds, 
when  the  plain  truth  is,  they  are  only  making  a  mess  in  the 
house.  I  have  seen  them,  ladies,  I  am  sorry  to  say,  as  well 
as  gentlemen,  go  out,  day  after  day,  for  example,  with  empty 
pill-boxes,  and  catch  newts,  and  beetles,  and  spiders,  and 
frogs,  and  come  home  and  stick  pins  through  the  miserable 
wretches,  or  cut  them  up,  without  a  pang  of  remorse,  into 
little  pieces.  You  see  my  young  master,  or  my  young  mis- 
tress, poring  over  one  of  their  spiders'  insides  with  a  mag- 
nifying-glass ;  or  you  meet  one  of  their  frogs  walking  down 
stairs  without  his  head ;  and  when  you  wonder  what  this 
cruel  nastiness  means,  you  are  told  that  it  means  a  taste  in 
my  young  master  or  my  young  mistress  for  natural  history. 
Sometimes,  again,  you  see  them  occupied  for  hours  together 
in  spoiling  a  pretty  flower  with  pointed  instruments,  out  of  a 
stupid  curiosity  to  know  what  the  flower  is  made  of.  Is  its 
color  any  prettier,  or  its  scent  any  sweeter,  when  you  do 
know  ?  But  there !  the  poor  souls  must  get  through  the  time, 
you  see — they  must  get  through  the  time.  You  dabbled  in 
nasty  mud,  and  made  pies,  when  you  were  a  child ;  and  you 

58 


THE  MOONSTONE 

dabble  in  nasty  science,  and  dissect  spiders,  and  spoil  flowers, 
when  you  grow  up.  In  the  one  case  and  in  the  other  the 
secret  of  it  is  that  you  have  got  nothing  to  think  of  in  your 
poor  empty  head,  and  nothing  to  do  with  your  poor  idle 
hands.  And  so  it  ends  in  your  spoiling  canvas  with  paints, 
and  making  a  smell  in  the  house;  or  in  keeping  tadpoles  in 
a  glass  box  full  of  dirty  water,  and  turning  every  body's  stom- 
ach in  the  house ;  or  in  chipping  off  bits  of  stone  here,  there, 
and  everywhere,  and  dropping  grit  into  all  the  victuals  in  the 
house;  or  in  staining  your  fingers  in  the  pursuit  of  photog- 
raphy, and  doing  justice  without  mercy  on  every  body's  face 
in  the  house.  It  often  falls  heavy  enough,  no  doubt,  on  people 
who  are  really  obliged  to  get  their  living,  to  be  forced  to 
work  for  the  clothes  that  cover  them,  the  roof  that  shelters 
them,  and  the  food  that  keeps  them  going.  But  compare  the 
hardest  day's  work  you  ever  did  with  the  idleness  that  splits 
flowers  and  pokes  its  way  into  spiders'  stomachs,  and  thank 
your  stars  that  your  head  has  got  something  it  must  think  of, 
and  your  hands  something  that  they  nnisf  do. 

As  for  Mr.  Franklin  and  Miss  Rachel,  they  tortured  noth- 
ing, I  am  glad  to  say.  They  simply  confined  themselves  to 
making  a  mess ;  and  all  they  spoiled,  to  do  them  justice,  was 
the  paneling  of  a  door. 

Mr.  Franklin's  universal  genius,  dabbling  in  every  thing, 
dabbled  in  what  he  called  "decorative  painting."  He  had 
invented,  he  informed  us,  a  new  mixture  to  moisten  paint 
with,  which  he  described  as  a  "vehicle."  What  it  was  made 
of  I  don't  know.  What  it  did  I  can  tell  you  in  two  words — 
it  stank.  Miss  Rachel  being  wild  to  try  her  hand  at  the  new 
process,  Mr.  Franklin  sent  to  London  for  the  materials ;  mixed 
them  up,  with  accompaniment  of  a  smell  which  made  the 
very  dogs  sneeze  when  they  came  into  the  room ;  put  an 
apron  and  a  bib  over  Miss  Rachel's  gown,  and  set  her  to  work 
decorating  her  own  little  sitting-room — called,  for  want  of 
English  to  name  it  in,  her  "boudoir."  They  began  with  the 
inside  of  the  door.  ]\Ir.  Franklin  scraped  ofif  all  the  nice 
varnish  with  pumice-stone,  and  made  what  he  described  as  a 
surface  to  work  on.  Miss  Rachel  then  covered  the  surface, 
under  his  directions  and  with  his  help,  with  patterns  and 
devices — griffins,  birds,  flowers,  cupids,  and  such  like — copied 

59 


THE  MOONSTONE 

from  designs  made  by  a  famous  Italian  painter,  whose  name 
escapes  me — the  one,  I  mean,  who  stocked  the  world  with 
Virgin  Marys  and  had  a  sweetheart  at  the  baker's.  Viewed 
as  work,  this  decoration  was  slow  to  do  and  dirty  to  deal 
with.  But  our  young  lady  and  gentleman  never  seemed  to 
tire  of  it.  When  they  were  not  riding,  or  seeing  company, 
or  taking  their  meals,  or  piping  their  songs,  there  they  were 
with  their  heads  together  as  busy  as  bees,  spoiling  the  door. 
Who  was  the  poet  who  said  that  Satan  finds  some  mischief 
still  for  idle  hands  to  do?  If  he  had  occupied  my  place  in 
the  family,  and  had  seen  Miss  Rachel  with  her  brush,  and 
Mr.  Franklin  with  his  vehicle,  he  could  have  written  nothing 
truer  of  either  of  them  than  that. 

The  next  date  worthy  of  notice  is  Sunday,  the  fourth  of 
June. 

On  that  evening  we,  in  the  servants'  hall,  debated  a  domes- 
tic question  for  the  first  time,  which,  like  the  decoration  of 
the  door,  has  its  bearing  on  something  that  is  still  to  come. 

Seeing  the  pleasure  wdiich  Mr.  Franklin  and  Miss  Rachel 
took  in  each  other's  society,  and  noting  what  a  pretty  match 
they  were  in  all  personal  respects,  we  naturally  speculated  on 
the  chance  of  their  putting  their  heads  together  with  other 
objects  in  view  besides  the  ornamenting  of  a  door.  Some  of 
us  said  there  would  be  a  wedding  in  the  house  before  the 
summer  was  over.  Others,  led  by  me,  admitted  it  was  likely 
enough  Miss  Rachel  might  be  married ;  but  we  doubted,  for 
reasons  which  will  presently  appear,  whether  her  bridegroom 
would  be  Mr.  Franklin  Blake. 

That  Air.  Franklin  was  in  love,  on  his  side,  nobody  who 
saw  and  heard  him  could  doubt.  The  difficulty  was  to  fathom 
Miss  Rachel.  Let  me  do  myself  the  honor  of  making  you 
acquainted  with  her ;  after  which  I  will  leave  you  to  fathom 
her  yourself — if  you  can. 

My  young  lady's  eighteenth  birthday  was  the  birthday  now 
coming,  on  the  twenty-first  of  June.  If  you  happen  to  like 
dark  women,  who,  I  am  informed,  have  gone  out  of  fashion 
latterly  in  the  gay  world,  and  if  you  have  no  particular  preju- 
dice in  favor  of  size,  I  answer  for  Miss  Rachel  as  one  of  the 
prettiest  girls  your  eyes  ever  looked  on.  She  was  small  and 
slim,  but  all  in  fine  proportion  from  top  to  toe.     To  see  her 

60 


THE  MOONSTONE 

sit  down,  to  see  her  get  up,  and  especially  to  see  her  walk, 
was  enough  to  satisfy  any  man  in  his  senses  that  the  graces 
of  her  figure,  if  you  will  pardon  me  the  expression,  were  in 
her  flesh,  and  not  in  her  clothes.  Her  hair  was  the  blackest 
I  ever  saw.  Her  eyes  matched  her  hair.  Her  nose  was  not 
quite  large  enough,  I  admit.  Her  mouth  and  chin  were,  to 
quote  Mr.  Franklin,  morsels  for  the  gods ;  and  her  complex- 
ion, on  the  same  undeniable  authority,  was  as  warm  as  the 
sun  itself,  with  this  great  advantage  over  the  sun,  that  it  was 
always  in  nice  order  to  look  at.  Add  to  the  foregoing  that 
she  carried  her  head  as  upright  as  a  dart,  in  a  dashing, 
spirited,  thorough-bred  way,  that  she  had  a  clear  voice,  with 
a  ring  of  the  right  metal  in  it,  and  a  smile  that  began  very 
prettily  in  her  eyes  before  it  got  to  her  lips — and  there  behold 
the  portrait  of  her,  to  the  best  of  my  painting,  as  large  as 
hfe! 

And  what  about  her  disposition  next?  Had  this  charming 
creature  no  faults?  She  had  just  as  many  faults  as  you  have, 
ma'am — neither  more  nor  less. 

To  put  it  seriously,  my  dear,  pretty  Miss  Rachel,  possess- 
ing a  host  of  graces  and  attractions,  had  one  defect,  which 
strict  impartiality  compels  me  to  acknowledge.  She  was  un- 
like most  other  girls  of  her  age  in  this — that  she  had  ideas 
of  her  own,  and  was  stifif-necked  enough  to  set  the  fashions 
themselves  at  defiance,  if  the  fashions  didn't  suit  her  views. 
In  trifles,  this  independence  of  hers  was  all  well  enough;  but 
in  matters  of  importance  it  carried  her,  as  my  lady  thought, 
and  as  I  thought,  too  far.  She  judged  for  herself,  as  few 
women  of  twice  her  age  judge  in  general;  never  asked  your 
advice ;  never  told  you  beforehand  what  she  was  going  to 
do ;  never  came  with  secrets  and  confidences  to  any  body, 
from  her  mother  downward.  In  little  things  and  great,  with 
people  she  loved  and  with  people  she  hated — and  she  did  both 
with  equal  heartiness — Miss  Rachel  always  went  on  a  way 
of  her  own,  sufficient  for  herself  in  the  joys  and  the  sorrows 
of  her  life.  Over  and  over  again  I  have  heard  my  lady  say, 
"Rachel's  best  friend  and  Rachel's  worst  enemy  are,  one  and 
the  other — Rachel  herself." 

Add  one  thing  more  to  this,  and  I  have  done. 

With  all  her  secrecy,  and  all  her  self-will,  there  was  not 

6i 


THE  MOONSTONE 

so  much  as  the  shadow  of  any  thing  false  in  her.  I  never 
remember  her  breaking  her  word ;  I  never  remember  her 
saying  "No,"  and  meaning  "Yes."  I  can  call  to  mind,  in 
her  childhood,  more  than  one  occasion  when  the  good  lit*v!e 
soul  took  the  blame,  and  suffered  the  punishment,  for  some 
fault  committed  by  a  playfellow  whom  she  loved.  Nobody 
ever  knew  her  to  confess  to  it  when  the  thing  was  found  out, 
and  she  was  .charged  with  it  afterward.  But  nobody  ever 
knew  her  to  lie  about  it,  either.  She  looked  you  straight  in 
the  face  and  shook  her  little  saucy  head,  and  said,  plainly, 
"I  won't  tell  you !"  Punished  again  for  this,  she  would  own 
to  being  sorry  for  saying  "won't" ;  but,  bread-and-water  not- 
withstanding, she  never  told  you.  Self-willed — devilish  self- 
willed  sometimes — I  grant ;  but  the  finest  creature,  neverthe- 
less, that  ever  walked  the  ways  of  this  lower  world.  Perhaps 
you  think  you  see  a  certain  contradiction  here  ?  In  that  case, 
a  word  in  your  ear.  Study  your  wife  closely  for  the  next 
four-and-twenty  hours.  If  your  good  lady  doesn't  exhibit 
something  in  the  shape  of  a  contradiction  in  that  time,  Heaven 
help  you ! — you  have  married  a  monster. 

I  HAVE  now  brought  you  acquainted  with  Miss  Rachel,  which 
you  will  find  puts  us  face  to  face,  next,  with  the  question  of 
that  young  lady's  matrimonial  views. 

On  June  the  twelfth,  an  invitation  from  my  mistress  was 
sent  to  a  gentleman  in  London,  to  come  and  help  to  keep 
Miss  Rachel's  birthday.  This  was  the  fortunate  individual 
on  whom  I  believed  her  heart  to  be  privately  set !  Like  Mr. 
Franklin,  he  was  a  cousin  of  hers.  His  name  was  Mr.  God- 
frey Ablewhite. 

My  lady's  second  sister — don't  be  alarmed ;  we  are  not 
going  very  deep  into  family  matters  this  time — my  lady's 
second  sister,  I  say,  had  a  disappointment  in  love ;  and  taking 
a  husband  afterward,  on  the  neck  or  nothing  principle,  made 
what  they  call  a  misalliance.  There  was  terrible  work  in  the 
family  when  the  Honorable  Caroline  insisted  on  marrying 
plain  Mr.  Ablewhite,  the  banker  at  Frizinghall.  He  was 
very  rich  and  very  good-tempered,  and  he  begot  a  prodigious 
large  family — all  in  his  favor,  so  far.  But  he  had  presumed 
to  raise  himself  from  a  low  station  in  the  world — and  that 

63 


THE  MOONSTONE 

was  against  him.  However,  time  and  the  progress  of  modern 
enlightenment  put  things  right ;  and  the  misalliance  passed 
muster  very  well.  We  are  all  getting  liberal  now ;  and,  pro- 
vided you  can  scratch  me,  if  I  scratch  you,  what  do  I  care, 
in  or  out  of  Parliament,  whether  you  are  a  Dustman  or  a 
Duke?  That's  the  modern  way  of  looking  at  it — and  I  keep 
up  with  the  modern  way.  The  Ablewhites  lived  in  a  fine 
house  and  grounds,  a  little  out  of  Frizinghall.  Very  worthy 
people,  and  greatly  respected  in  the  neighborhood.  We  shall 
not  be  much  troubled  with  them  in  these  pages — excepting 
Mr.  Godfrey,  who  was  Mr.  Ablewhite's  second  son,  and  who 
must  take  his  proper  place  here,  if  you  please,  for  Miss 
Rachel's  sake. 

With  all  his  brightness  and  cleverness  and  general  good 
qualities,  Mr.  Franklin's  chance  of  topping  Mr.  Godfrey  in 
our  young  lady's  estimation  was,  in  my  opinion,  a  very  poor 
chance  indeed. 

In  the  first  place,  Mr.  Godfrey  was,  in  point  of  size,  the 
finest  man  by  far  of  the  two.  He  stood  over  six  feet  high ; 
he  had  a  beautiful  red  and  white  color ;  a  smooth  round  face, 
shaved  as  bare  as  your  hand ;  and  a  head  of  lovely  long  flaxen 
hair,  falling  negligently  over  the  poll  of  his  neck.  But  why 
do  I  try  to  give  you  this  personal  description  of  him  ?  If  you 
ever  subscribed  to  a  Ladies'  Charity  in  London,  you  know 
Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite  as  well  as  I  do.  He  was  a  barrister 
by  profession ;  a  ladies'  man  by  temperament ;  and  a  good 
Samaritan  by  choice.  Female  benevolence  and  female  desti- 
tution could  do  nothing  without  him.  Maternal  societies  for 
confining  poor  women ;  Magdalen  societies  for  rescuing  poor 
women ;  strong-minded  societies  for  putting  poor  women  into 
poor  men's  places,  and  leaving  the  men  to  shift  for  themselves 
— he  was  vice-president,  manager,  referee  to  them  all. 
Wherever  there  was  a  table  with  a  committee  of  ladies  sit- 
ting round  it  in  council,  there  was  Mr.  Godfrey  at  the  bottom 
of  the  board,  keeping  the  temper  of  the  committee  and  leading 
the  dear  creatures  along  the  thorny  ways  of  business,  hat  in 
hand.  I  do  suppose  this  was  the  most  accomplished  philan- 
thropist, on  a  small  independence,  that  England  ever  pro- 
duced. As  a  speaker  at  charitable  meetings  the  like  of  him 
for  drawing  your  tears  and  your  money  was  not  easy  to  find. 

63 


THE  MOONSTONE 

He  was  quite  a  public  character.  The  last  time  I  was  in 
London  my  mistress  gave  me  two  treats.  She  sent  me  to 
the  theatre  to  see  a  dancing  woman  who  was  all  the  rage; 
and  she  sent  me  to  Exeter  Hall  to  hear  Mr.  Godfrey.  The 
lady  did  it  with  a  band  of  music.  The  gentleman  did  it  with 
a  handkerchief  and  a  glass  of  water.  Crowds  at  the  perform- 
ance with  the  legs.  Ditto  at  the  performance  with  the  tongue. 
And  with  all  this  the  sweetest-tempered  person — I  allude  to 
Mr.  Godfrey — the  simplest  and  pleasantest  and  easiest  to 
please,  you  ever  met  with.  He  loved  every  body.  And  every 
body  loved  him.  What  chance  had  Mr.  Franklin — what 
chance  had  any  body  of  average  reputation  and  capacities — 
against  such  a  man  as  this? 

On  the  fourteenth  came  Mr.  Godfrey's  answer. 

He  accepted  my  mistress's  invitation,  from  the  Wednesday 
of  the  birthday  to  the  evening  of  Friday — when  his  duties 
to  the  Ladies'  Charities  would  oblige  him  to  return  to  town. 
He  also  inclosed  a  copy  of  verses  on  what  he  elegantly  called 
his  cousin's  "natal  day."  Miss  Rachel,  I  was  informed,  joined 
Mr.  Franklin  in  making  fun  of  the  verses  at  dinner :  and 
Penelope,  who  was  all  on  Mr.  Franklin's  side,  asked  me,  in 
great  triumph,  what  I  thought  of  that.  "Miss  Rachel  has 
led  yoii  off  on  a  false  scent,  my  dear,"  I  replied ;  "but  my 
nose  is  not  so  easily  mystified.  Wait  till  Mr.  Ablewhite's 
verses  are  followed  by  Mr.  Ablewhite  himself." 

My  daughter  replied,  that  Mr.  Franklin  might  strike  in 
and  try  his  luck,  before  the  verses  were  followed  by  the  poet. 
In  favor  of  this  view,  I  must  acknowledge  that  Mr.  Franklin 
left  no  chance  untried  of  winning  Miss  Rachel's  good  graces. 

Though  one  of  the  most  inveterate  smokers  I  ever  met 
with,  he  gave  up  his  cigar  because  she  said,  one  day,  she 
hated  the  stale  smell  of  it  in  his  clothes.  He  slept  so  badly, 
after  this  effort  of  self-denial,  for  want  of  the  composing 
effect  of  the  tobacco  to  which  he  was  used,  and  came  down 
morning  after  morning  looking  so  haggard  and  worn,  that 
Miss  Rachel  herself  begged  him  to  take  to  his  cigars  again. 
No !  he  would  take  to  nothing  again  that  would  cause  her  a 
moment's  annoyance ;  he  would  fight  it  out  resolutely,  and 
get  back  his  sleep,  sooner  or  later,  by  main  force  of  patience 

64 


THE  MOONSTONE 

in  waiting  for  it.  Such  devotion  as  this,  you  may  say,  as 
some  of  them  said  down  stairs,  could  never  fail  of  producing 
the  right  effect  on  Miss  Rachel — backed  up,  too,  as  it  was, 
by  the  decorating  work  every  day  on  the  door.  All  very  well 
— but  she  had  a  photograph  of  Mr.  Godfrey  in  her  bedroom ; 
represented  speaking  at  a  public  meeting,  with  all  his  hair 
blown  out  by  the  breath  of  his  own  eloquence,  and  his  eyes, 
most  lovely,  charming  the  money  out  of  your  pockets !  What 
do  you  say  to  that?  Every  morning,  as  Penelope  herself 
owned  to  me,  there  was  the  man  whom  women  couldn't  do 
without,  looking  on,  in  effigy,  while  Miss  Rachel  was  having 
her  hair  combed.  He  would  be  looking  on,  in  reality,  before 
long — that  was  my  opinion  of  it. 

June  the  sixteenth  brought  an  event  which  made  Mr.  Frank- 
lin's chance  look,  to  my  mind,  a  worse  chance  than  ever. 

A  strange  gentleman,  speaking  English  with  a  foreign 
accent,  came  that  morning  to  the  house  and  asked  to  see  Mr. 
Franklin  Blake  on  business.  The  business  could  not  possibly 
have  been  connected  with  the  Diamond,  for  these  two  reasons 
— first,  that  Mr.  Franklin  told  me  nothing  about  it ;  secondly, 
that  he  communicated  it,  after  the  strange  gentleman  had 
gone  away  again,  to  my  lady.  She  probably  hinted  some- 
thing about  it  next  to  her  daughter.  At  any  rate.  Miss  Rachel 
was  reported  to  have  said  some  severe  things  to  Mr.  Frank- 
lin, at  the  piano  that  evening,  about  the  people  he  had  lived 
among,  and  the  principles  he  had  adopted  in  foreign  parts. 
The  next  day,  for  the  first  time,  nothing  was  done  toward 
the  decoration  of  the  door.  I  suspect  some  imprudence  of 
Mr.  Franklin's  on  the  Continent — with  a  woman  or  a  debt 
at  the  bottom  of  it — had  followed  him  to  England.  But  that 
is  all  guess-work.  In  this  case,  not  only  Mr.  Franklin,  but 
my  lady,  too,  for  a  wonder,  left  me  in  the  dark. 

On  the  seventeenth,  to  all  appearance,  the  cloud  passed 
away  again.  They  returned  to  their  decorating  work  on  the 
door,  and  seemed  to  be  as  good  friends  as  ever.  If  Penelope 
was  to  be  believed,  Mr.  Franklin  had  seized  the  opportunity 
of  the  reconciliation  to  make  an  offer  to  Miss  Rachel,  and  had 
neither  been  accepted  nor  refused.     My  girl  was  sure,  from 

65 


THE  MOONSTONE 

signs  and  tokens  which  I  need  not  trouble  you  with,  that 
her  young  mistress  had  fought  Mr.  FrankUn  off  by  declining 
to  believe  that  he  was  in  earnest,  and  had  then  secretly,  regret- 
ted treating  him  in  that  way  afterward.  Though  Penelope 
was  admitted  to  more  familiarity  with  her  young  mistress 
than  maids  generally  are — for  the  two  had  been  almost 
brought  up  together  as  children — still  I  knew  Miss  Rachel's 
reserved  character  too  well  to  believe  that  she  would  show 
her  mind  to  any  body  in  this  way.  What  my  daughter  told 
me  on  the  present  occasion  was,  as  I  suspected,  more  what 
she  wished  than  what  she  really  knew. 

On  the  nineteenth  another  event  happened.  We  had  the 
doctor  in  the  house  professionally.  He  was  summoned  to 
prescribe  for  a  person  whom  I  have  had  occasion  to  present 
to  you  in  these  pages — our  second  house-maid,  Rosanna 
Spearman. 

This  poor  girl — who  had  puzzled  me,  as  you  know  already, 
at  the  Shivering  Sand — puzzled  me  more  than  once  again  in 
the  interval  time  of  which  I  am  now  writing.  Penelope's 
notion  that  her  fellow-servant  was  in  love  with  Mr.  Franklin, 
which  my  daughter,  by  my  orders,  kept  strictly  secret,  seemed 
to  me  just  as  absurd  as  ever.  But  I  must  own  that  what  I 
myself  saw,  and  what  my  daughter  saw  also,  of  our  second 
house-maid's  conduct  began  to  look  mysterious,  to  say  the 
least  of  it. 

For  example,  the  girl  constantly  put  herself  in  ]\Ir.  Frank- 
lin's way — very  slyly  and  quietly,  but  she  did  it.  He  took 
about  as  much  notice  of  her  as  he  took  of  the  cat :  it  never 
seemed  to  occur  to  him  to  waste  a  look  on  Rosanna's  plain 
face.  The  poor  thing's  appetite,  never  much,  fell  away  dread- 
fully; and  her  eyes  in  the  morning  showed  plain  signs  of 
waking  and  crying  at  night.  One  day  Penelope  made  an 
awkward  discovery,  which  we  hushed  up  on  the  spot.  She 
caught  Rosanna  at  Mr.  Franklin's  dressing-table,  secretly  re- 
moving a  rose  which  Miss  Rachel  had  given  him  to  wear 
in  his  button-hole,  and  putting  another  rose  like  it,  of  her 
own  picking,  in  its  place.  She  was,  after  that,  once  or  twice 
impudent  to  me,  when  I  gave  her  a  well-meant  general  hint 
to  be  careful  in  her  conduct;  and,  worse  still,  she  was  not 

66 


THE  MOONSTONE 

over-respectful  now  on  the  few  occasions  when  Miss  Rachel 
accidentally  spoke  to  her. 

My  lady  noticed  the  change,  and  asked  me  what  I  thought 
about  it.  I  tried  to  screen  the  girl  by  answering  that  I 
thought  she  was  out  of  health ;  and  it  ended  in  the  doctor 
being  sent  for,  as  already  mentioned,  on  the  nineteenth.  He 
said  it  was  her  nerves,  and  doubted  if  she  was  fit  for  service. 
My  lady  offered  to  remove  her  for  change  of  air  to  one  of 
our  farms  inland.  She  begged  and  prayed,  with  the  tears 
in  her  eyes,  to  be  let  to  stop ;  and  in  an  evil  hour  I  advised  my 
lady  to  try  her  for  a  little  longer.  As  the  event  proved,  and 
as  you  will  soon  see,  this  was  the  worst  advice  I  could  have 
given.  If  I  could  only  have  looked  a  little  way  into  the 
future,  I  would  have  taken  Rosanna  Spearman  out  of  the 
house,  then  and  there,  with  my  own  hand. 

On  the  twentieth,  there  came  a  note  from  Mr.  Godfrey.  He 
had  arranged  to  stop  at  Frizinghall  that  night,  having  oc- 
casion to  consult  his  father  on  business.  On  the  afternoon 
of  the  next  day  he  and  his  two  eldest  sisters  would  ride  over 
to  us  on  horseback,  in  good  time  before  dinner.  An  elegant 
little  casket  in  china  accompanied  the  note,  presented  to  Miss 
Rachel,  with  her  cousin's  love  and  best  wishes.  Mr.  Frank- 
lin had  only  given  her  a  plain  locket  not  worth  half  the 
money.  My  daughter  Penelope,  nevertheless — such  is  the 
obstinacy  of  women — still  backed  him  to  win. 

Thanks  be  to  Heaven,  we  have  arrived  at  the  eve  of  the 
birthday  at  last !  You  will  own,  I  think,  that  I  have  got 
you  over  the  ground,  this  time,  without  much  loitering  by 
the  way.  Cheer  up !  I'll  ease  you  with  another  new  chapter 
here — and,  what  is  more,  that  chapter  shall  take  you  straight 
into  the  thick  of  the  story. 


CHAPTER   IX. 

JUNE  twenty-first,  the   day  of  the  birthday,  was  cloudy 
and  unsettled  at  sunrise,  but  toward  noon  it  cleared  up 
bravely. 

67 


THE  MOONSTONE 

We,  in  the  servants'  hall,  began  this  happy  anniversary, 
as  usual,  by  offering  our  little  presents  to  Miss  Rachel,  with 
the  regular  speech  delivered  annually  by  me  as  the  chief.  I 
follow  the  plan  adopted  by  the  Queen  in  opening  Parliament 
— namely,  the  plan  of  saying  much  the  same  thing  regularly 
every  year.  Before  it  is  delivered,  my  speech,  like  the 
Queen's,  is  looked  for  as  eagerly  as  if  nothing  of  the  kind 
had  ever  been  heard  before.  When  it  is  delivered,  and  turns 
out  not  to  be  the  novelty  anticipated,  though  they  grumble 
a  little,  they  look  forward  hopefully  to  something  newer  next 
year.  An  easy  people  to  govern,  in  the  Parliament  and  in  the 
Kitchen — that's  the  moral  of  it. 

After  breakfast,  Mr.  Franklin  and  I  had  a  private  confer- 
ence on  the  subject  of  the  Moonstone — the  time  having  now 
come  for  removing  it  from  the  bank  at  Frizinghall,  and 
placing  it  in  Miss  Rachel's  own  hands. 

Whether  he  had  been  trying  to  make  love  to  his  cousin 
again,  and  had  got  a  rebuff — or  whether  his  broken  rest, 
night  after  night,  was  aggravating  the  queer  contradictions 
and  uncertainties  in  his  character — I  don't  know.  But  certain 
it  is,  that  Mr,  Franklin  failed  to  show  himself  at  his  best 
on  the  morning  of  the  birthday.  He  was  in  twenty  different 
minds  about  the  Diamond  in  as  many  minutes.  For  my  part, 
I  stuck  fast  by  the  plain  facts  as  we  knew  them.  Nothing 
had  happened  to  justify  us  in  alarming  my  lady  on  the  sub- 
ject of  the  jewel  and  nothing  could  alter  the  legal  obligation 
that  now  lay  on  Mr.  Franklin  to  put  it  in  his  cousin's  pos- 
session. That  was  my  view  of  the  matter ;  and,  twist  and 
turn  it  as  he  might,  he  was  forced  in  the  end  to  make  it  his 
view  too.  We  arranged  that  he  was  to  ride  over,  after  lunch, 
to  Frizinghall,  and  bring  the  Diamond  back,  with  Mr.  God- 
frey and  the  two  young  ladies,  in  all  probability,  to  keep  him 
company  on  the  way  home  again. 

This  settled,  our  young  gentleman  went  back  to  Miss 
Rachel. 

They  consumed  the  whole  morning,  and  part  of  the  after- 
noon, in  the  everlasting  business  of  decorating  the  door, 
Penelope  standing  by  to  mix  the  colors,  as  directed ;  and  my 
lady,  as  luncheon-time  drew  near,  going  in  and  out  of  the 
room,  with  her  handkerchief  to  her  nose,  for  they  used  a 

68 


THE  MOONSTONE 

deal  of  Mr.  Franklin's  vehicle  that  day,  and  trying  vainly 
to  get  the  two  artists  away  from  their  work.  It  was  three 
o'clock  before  they  took  off  their  aprons,  and  released  Penel- 
ope, much  worse  for  the  vehicle,  and  cleaned  themselves  of 
their  mess.  But  they  had  done  what  they  wanted — they  had 
finished  the  door  on  the  birthday,  and  proud  enough  they 
were  of  it.  The  griffins,  cupids,  and  so  on,  were,  I  must 
own,  most  beautiful  to  behold ;  though  so  many  in  number, 
so  entangled  in  flowers  and  devices,  and  so  topsy-turvy  in 
their  actions  and  attitudes,  that  you  felt  them  unpleasantly 
in  your  head  for  hours  after  you  had  done  with  the  pleasure 
of  looking  at  them.  If  I  add  that  Penelope  ended  her  part 
of  the  morning's  work  by  being  sick  in  the  back  kitchen,  it 
is  in  no  unfriendly  spirit  toward  the  vehicle.  No !  no !  It 
left  off  stinking  when  it  dried;  and  if  Art  requires  this  sort 
of  sacrifice — though  the  girl  is  my  own  daughter — I  say,  let 
Art  have  them ! 

Mr.  Franklin  snatched  a  morsel  from  the  luncheon-table, 
and  rode  off  to  Frizinghall — to  escort  his  cousins,  as  he  told 
my  lady.  To  fetch  the  Moonstone,  as  was  privately  known 
to  himself  and  to  me. 

This  being  one  of  the  high  festivals  on  which  I  took  my 
place  at  the  sideboard,  in  command  of  the  attendance  at 
table,  I  had  plenty  to  occupy  my  mind  while  Mr.  Franklin 
was  away.  Having  seen  to  the  wine,  and  reviewed  my  men 
and  women  who  were  to  wait  at  dinner,  I  retired  to  collect 
myself  before  the  company  came.  A  whiff  of — you  know 
what — and  a  turn  at  a  certain  book  which  I  have  had  occasion 
to  mention  in  these  pages,  composed  me,  body  and  mind.  I 
was  aroused  from  what  I  am  inclined  to  think  must  have 
been,  not  a  nap,  but  a  reverie,  by  the  clatter  of  horses'  hoofs 
outside  and  going  to  the  door,  received  a  cavalcade  compris- 
ing Mr.  Franklin  and  his  three  cousins,  escorted  by  one  of 
old  Mr.  Ablewhite's  grooms. 

Mr.  Godfrey  struck  me,  strangely  enough,  as  being  like 
Mr.  Franklin  in  this  respect — that  he  did  not  seem  to  be  in 
his  customary  spirits.  He  kindly  shook  hands  with  me  as 
usual  and  was  most  politely  glad  to  see  his  old  friend  Better- 
edge  wearing  so  well.  But  there  was  a  sort  of  cloud  over 
him,  which  I  couldn't  at  all  account  for;  and  when  I  asked 

69 


THE  MOONSTONE 

how  he  had  found  his  father  in  health,  he  answered  rather 
shortly,  "Much  as  usual."  However,  the  two  Miss  Able- 
whites  were  cheerful  enough  for  twenty,  which  more  than 
restored  the  balance.  They  were  nearly  as  big  as  their 
brother;  spanking,  yellow-haired,  rosy  lasses,  overflowing 
with  superabundant  flesh  and  blood ;  bursting  from  head  to 
foot  with  health  and  spirits.  The  legs  of  the  poor  horses 
trembled  with  carrying  them ;  and  when  they  jumped  from 
their  saddles,  without  waiting  to  be  helped,  I  declare  they 
bounced  on  the  ground  as  if  they  were  made  of  India  rubber. 
Every  thing  the  Miss  Ablewhites  said  began  with  a  large  O ; 
every  thing  they  did  was  done  with  a  bang ;  and  they  giggled 
and  screamed,  in  season  and  out  of  season,  on  the  smallest 
provocation.     Bouncers — that's  what  I  call  them. 

Under  cover  of  the  noise  made  by  the  young  ladies,  I  had 
an  opportunity  of  saying  a  private  word  to  Mr.  Franklin  in 
the  hall. 

"Have  you  got  the  Diamond  safe,  sir?" 
He  nodded,  -and  tapped  the  breast-pocket  of  his  coat. 
"Have  you  seen  any  thing  of  the  Indians  ?" 
"Not  a  glimpse."     With  that  answer,  he  asked   for  my 
lady,  and,  hearing  she  was  in  the  small  drawing-room,  went 
there  straight.     The  bell  rang,  before  he  had  been  a  minute 
in  the  room,  and  Penelope  was  sent  to  tell  Miss  Rachel  that 
Mr.  Franklin  Blake  wanted  to  speak  to  her. 

Crossing  the  hall  about  half  an  hour  afterward  I  was  brought 
to  a  sudden  stand-still  by  an  outbreak  of  screams  from  the 
small  drawing-room.  I  can't  say  I  was  at  all  alarmed ;  for 
I  recognized  in  the  screams  the  favorite  large  O  of  the  Miss 
Ablewhites.  However,  I  went  in,  on  pretense  of  asking  for 
instructions  about  the  dinner,  to  discover  whether  any  thing 
serious  had  really  happened. 

There  stood  Miss  Rachel  at  the  table,  like  a  person  fasci- 
nated, with  the  Colonel's  unlucky  Diamond  in  her  hand. 
There,  on  either  side  of  her,  knelt  the  two  Bouncers,  devour- 
ing the  jewel  with  their  eyes,  and  screaming  with  ecstasy 
every  time  it  flashed  on  them  in  a  new  light.  There,  at  the 
opposite  side  of  the  table,  stood  Mr.  Godfrey,  clapping  his 
hands  like  a  large  child,  and  singing  out,  softly,  "Exquisite! 

70 


THE  MOONSTONE 

exquisite !"  There  sat  Mr.  Franklin,  in  a  chair  by  the  book- 
case, tugging  at  his  beard,  and  looking  anxiously  toward  the 
window.  And  there,  at  the  window,  stood  the  object  he  was 
contemplating — my  lady,  having  the  extract  from  the  Col- 
onel's will  in  her  hand,  and  keeping  her  back  turned  on  the 
whole  of  the  company. 

She  faced  me  when  I  asked  for  my  instructions,  and  I  saw 
the  family  frown  gathering  over  her  eyes,  and  the  family 
temper  twitching  at  the  corners  of  her  mouth. 

"Come  to  my  room  in  half  an  hour,"  she  answered.  'T 
shall  have  something  to  say  to  you  then." 

With  those  words  she  went  out.  It  was  plain  enough  that 
she  was  posed  by  the  same  difficulty  which  had  posed  Mr. 
Franklin  and  me  in  our  conference  at  the  Shivering  Sand. 
Was  the  legacy  of  the  Moonstone  a  proof  that  she  had  treated 
her  brother  with  cruel  injustice?  or  was  it  a  proof  that  he 
was  worse  than  the  worst  she  had  ever  thought  of  him? 
Serious  questions  those  for  my  lady  to  determine ;  while  her 
daughter,  innocent  of  all  knowledge  of  the  Colonel's  char- 
acter, stood  there  with  the  Colonel's  birthday  gift  in  her 
hand. 

Before  I  could  leave  the  room,  in  my  turn.  Miss  Rachel, 
always  considerate  to  the  old  servant  who  had  been  in  the 
house  when  she  was  born,  stopped  me.  "Look,  Gabriel !"  she 
said,  and  flashed  the  jewel  before  my  eyes  in  a  ray  of  sun- 
light that  poured  through  the  window. 

Lord  bless  us !  it  zvas  a  Diamond !  As  large,  or  nearly,  as 
a  plover's  eggl  The  light  that  streamed  from  it  was  like 
the  light  of  the  harvest-moon.  When  you  looked  down  into 
the  stone,  you  looked  into  a  yellow  deep  that  drew  your  eyes 
into  it  so  that  they  saw  nothing  else.  It  seemed  unfathom- 
able; this  jewel,  that  you  could  hold  between  your  finger  and 
thumb,  seemed  unfathomable  as  the  heavens  themselves.  We 
set  it  in  the  sun,  and  then  shut  the  light  out  of  the  room, 
and  it  shone  awfully  out  of  the  depths  of  its  own  brightness, 
with  a  moony  gleam,  in  the  dark.  No  wonder  Miss  Rachel 
was  fascinated ;  no  wonder  her  cousins  screamed.  The  Dia- 
mond laid  such  a  hold  on  me  that  I  burst  out  with  as  large  an 
"O !"  as  the  Bouncers  themselves.  The  only  one  of  us  who 
kept  his  senses  was  Mr.  Godfrey.    He  put  an  arm  round  each 

7' 


THE  MOONSTONE 

of  his  sisters'  waists,  and,  looking  compassionately  backward 
and  forward  between  the  Diamond  and  me,  said,  "Carbon, 
Bettercdge ;  mere  carbon,  my  good  friend,  after  all !" 

His  object,  I  suppose,  was  to  instruct  me.  All  he  did, 
however,  was  to  remind  me  of  the  dinner.  I  hobbled  ofT  to 
my  army  of  waiters  down  stairs.  As  I  went  out  Mr.  Godfrey 
said,  "Dear  old  Betteredge,  I  have  the  truest  regard  for  him !" 
He  was  embracing  his  sisters  and  ogling  Miss  Rachel  while 
he  honored  me  with  that  testimony  of  affection.  Something 
like  a  stock  of  love  to  draw  on  there!  Mr.  Franklin  was  a 
perfect  savage  by  comparison  with  him. 

At  the  end  of  half  an  hour  I  presented  myself,  as  directed, 
in  my  lady's  room. 

What  passed  between  my  mistress  and  me  on  this  occasion 
was,  in  the  main,  a  repetition  of  what  had  passed  between 
Mr.  Franklin  and  me  at  the  Shivering  Sand — with  this  dif- 
ference, that  I  took  care  to  keep  my  own  counsel  about  the 
jugglers,  seeing  that'  nothing  had  happened  to  justify  me  in 
alarming  my  lady  on  this  head.  When  I  received  my  dis- 
missal I  could  see  that  she  took  the  blackest  view  possible 
of  the  Colonel's  motives,  and  that  she  was  bent  on  getting 
the  Moonstone  out  of  her  daughter's  possession  at  the  first 
opportunity. 

On  my  way  back  to  my  own  part  of  the  house  I  was 
encountered  by  Mr.  Franklin.  He  wanted  to  know  if  I  had 
seen  any  thing  of  his  cousin  Rachel.  I  had  seen  nothing  of 
her.  Could  I  tell  him  where  his  cousin  Godfrey  was?  I 
didn't  know,  but  I  began  to  suspect  that  Cousin  Godfrey 
might  not  be  far  away  from  Cousin  Rachel.  Mr.  Franklin's 
suspicions  apparently  took  the  same  turn.  He  tugged 
hard  at  his  beard,  and  went  and  shut  himself  up  in  the 
library  with  a  bang  of  the  door  that  had  a  world  of  mean- 
ing in  it. 

I  was  interrupted  no  more  in  the  business  of  preparing  for 
the  birthday  dinner  till  it  was  time  for  me  to  smarten  myself 
up  for  receiving  the  company.  Just  as  I  had  got  my  white 
waistcoat  on,  Penelope  presented  herself  at  my  toilet,  on 
pretense  of  brushing  what  little  hair  I  have  got  left,  and 
improving  the  tie  of  my  white  cravat.  Aly  girl  was  in  high 
spirits,  and  I  saw  she  had  something  to  say  to  me.    She  gave 

72 


THE  MOONSTONE 

me  a  kiss  on  the  top  of  my  bald  head,  and  whispered,  "News 
for  you,  father!    Miss  Rachel  has  refused  him." 

"Who's  him?"  I  asked. 

"The  ladies'  committee-man,  father,"  says  Penelope.  "A 
nasty,  sly  fellow.  I  hate  him  for  trying  to  supplant  Mr. 
Franklin !" 

If  I  had  had  breath  enough  I  should  certainly  have  pro- 
tested against  this  indecent  way  of  speaking  of  an  eminent 
philanthropic  character.  But  my  daughter  happened  to  be 
improving  the  tie  of  my  cravat  at  that  moment,  and  the 
whole  strength  of  her  feelings  found  its  way  into  her  fingers. 
I  never  was  more  nearly  strangled  in  my  life. 

"I  saw  him  take  her  away  alone  into  the  rose-garden," 
says  Penelope.  "And  I  waited  behind  the  holly  to  see  how 
they  came  back.  They  had  gone  out  arm  in  arm,  both 
laughing.  They  came  back,  walking  separate,  as  grave  as 
grave  could  be,  and  looking  straight  away  from  each  other 
in  a  manner  which  there  was  no  mistaking.  I  never  was 
more  delighted,  father,  in  my  life !  There's  one  woman  in 
the  world  who  can  resist  Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite,  at  any 
rate;  and,  if  I  was  a  lady,  I  should  be  another!" 

Here  I  should  have  protested  again.  But  my  daughter 
had  got  the  hair-brush  by  this  time,  and  the  whole  strength 
of  her  feelings  had  passed  into  that.  If  you  are  bald,  you 
will  understand  how  she  scarified  me.  If  you  are  not,  skip 
this  bit,  and  thank  God  you  have  got  something  in  the  way 
of  a  defense  between  your  hair-brush  and  your  head. 

"Just  on  the  other  side  of  the  holly,"  Penelope  went  on, 
"Mr.  Godfrey  came  to  a  stand-still.  'You  prefer,'  says  he, 
'that  I  should  stop  here  as  if  nothing  had  happened?'  Miss 
Rachel  turned  on  him  like  lightning.  'You  have  accepted 
my  mother's  invitation,'  she  said;  'and  you  are  here  to  meet 
her  guests.  Unless  you  wish  to  make  a  scandal  in  the  house, 
you  will  remain,  of  course !'  She  went  on  a  few  steps,  and 
then  seemed  to  relent  a  little.  'Let  us  forget  what  has  passed, 
Godfrey,'  she  said,  'and  let  us  remain  cousins  still.'  She  gave 
him  her  hand.  He  kissed  it,  which  /  should  have  considered 
taking  a  liberty,  and  then  she  left  him.  He  waited  a  little 
by  himself,  with  his  head  down,  and  his  heel  grinding  a  hole 
slowly  in  the  gravel-walk ;  you  never  saw  a  man  look  more 

73 


THE  MOONSTONE 

put  out  in  your  life.  'Awkward !'  he  said,  between  his  teeth, 
when  he  looked  up,  and  went  on  to  the  house — 'very  awk- 
ward!' If  that  was  his  opinion  of  himself,  he  was  quite  right. 
Awkward  enough,  I'm  sure.  And  the  end  of  it  is,  father, 
what  I  told  you  all  along,"  cries  Penelope,  finishing  me  off 
with  a  last  scarification,  the  hottest  of  all,  "Mr.  Franklin's 
the  man !" 

I  got  possession  of  the  hair-brush,  and  opened  my  lips  to 
administer  the  reproof  which,  you  will  own,  my  daughter's 
language  and  conduct  richly  deserved. 

Before  I  could  say  a  word  the  crash  of  carriage-wheels 
outside  struck  in  and  stopped  me.  The  first  of  the  dinner 
company  had  come.  Penelope  instantly  ran  ofif.  I  put  on 
my  coat,  and  looked  in  the  glass.  My  head  was  as  red  as 
a  lobster;  but,  in  other  respects,  I  was  as  nicely  dressed  for 
the  ceremonies  of  the  evening  as  a  man  need  be.  I  got  into 
the  hall  just  in  time  to  annovuice  the  first  two  of  the  guests. 
You  needn't  feel  particularly  interested  about  them.  Only 
the  philanthropist's  father  and  mother,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Able- 
white. 


CHAPTER   X. 


ONE  on  the  top  of  the  other,  the  rest  of  the  company  fol- 
lowed the  Ablewhites,  till  we  had  the  whole  tale  of  them 
complete.  Including  the  family,  they  were  twenty-four  in 
all.  It  was  a  noble  sight  to  see,  when  they  were  settled  in 
their  places  round  the  dinner-table,  and  the  Rector  of  Frizing- 
hall,  with  beautiful  elocution,  rose  and  said  grace. 

There  is  no  need  to  worry  you  with  a  list  of  the  guests. 
You  will  meet  none  of  them  a  second  time — in  my  part  of  the 
story  at  any  rate — with  the  exception  of  two. 

Those  two  sat  on  either  side  of  Miss  Rachel,  who,  as  queen 
of  the  day,  was  naturally  the  great  attraction  of  the  party. 
On  this  occasion  she  was  more  particularly  the  centre-point 
toward  which  every  body's  eyes  were  directed ;  for,  to  my 
lady's  secret  annoyance,  she  wore  her  wonderful  birthday 
present,  which  eclipsed  all  the  rest — the  Moonstone.  It  was 
without  any  setting  when  it  had  been  placed  in  her  hands ; 

74 


THE  MOONSTONE 

but  that  universal  genius,  Mr,  Franklin,  had  contrived,  with 
the  help  of  his  neat  fingers  and  a  little  bit  of  silver  wire,  to 
fix  it  as  a  brooch  in  the  bosom  of  her  white  dress.  Every 
body  wondered  at  the  prodigious  size  and  beauty  of  the  Dia- 
mond, as  a  matter  of  course.  But  the  only  two  of  the  com- 
pany who  said  any  thing  out  of  the  common  way  about  it 
were  those  two  guests.  I  have  mentioned,  who  sat  by  Miss 
Rachel  on  her  right  hand  and  her  left. 

The  guest  on  her  left  was  Mr.  Candy,  our  doctor  at  Friz- 
inghall. 

This  was  a  pleasant,  companionable  little  man,  with  the 
drawback,  however,  I  must  own,  of  being  too  fond,  in  season 
and  out  of  season,  of  his  joke,  and  of  plunging  in  rather  a 
headlong  manner  into  talk  with  strangers,  without  waiting 
to  feel  his  way  first.  In  society  he  was  constantly  making 
mistakes,  and  setting  people  unintentionally  by  the  ears  to- 
gether. In  his  medical  practice  he  was  a  more  prudent  man ; 
picking  up  his  discretion,  as  his  enemies  said,  by  a  kind  of 
instinct,  and  proving  to  be  generally  right  where  more  care- 
fully conducted  doctors  turned  out  to  be  wrong.  What  he 
said  about  the  Diamond  to  Miss  Rachel  was  said,  as  usual, 
by  way  of  a  mystification  or  joke.  He  gravely  entreated  her, 
in  the  interests  of  science,  to  let  him  take  it  home  and  burn 
it.  "We  will  first  heat  it.  Miss  Rachel,"  says  the  doctor,  "to 
such  and  such  a  degree ;  then  we  will  expose  it  to  a  current 
of  air ;  and,  little  by  little — pufif ! — we  evaporate  the  Diamond, 
and  spare  you  a  world  of  anxiety  about  the  safe-keeping  of 
a  valuable  precious  stone!"  My  lady,  listening  with  rather 
a  care-worn  expression  on  her  face,  seemed  to  wish  that  the 
doctor  had  been  in  earnest,  and  that  he  could  have  found 
Miss  Rachel  zealous  enough  in  the  cause  of  science  to  sacrifice 
her  birthday  gift. 

The  other  guest,  who  sat  on  my  young  lady's  right  hand, 
was  an  eminent  public  character — being  no  other  than  the 
celebrated  Indian  traveler,  Mr.  Murthwaite,  who  at  risk  of 
his  life  had  penetrated  in  disguise  where  no  European  had 
ever  set  foot  before. 

This  was  a  long,  lean,  wiry,  brown,  silent  man.  He  had  a 
weary  look  and  a  very  steady  attentive  eye.  It  was  rumored 
that  he  was  tired  of  the  humdrum  life  among  the  people  in 

75 


THE  MOONSTONE 

our  parts  and  longing  to  go  back  and  wander  off  on  the  tramp 
again  in  the  wild  places  of  the  East.  Except  what  he  said 
to  Miss  Rachel  about  her  jewel,  I  doubt  if  he  spoke  six  words, 
or  drank  so  much  as  a  single  glass  of  wine,  all  through  the 
dinner.  The  Moonstone  was  the  object  that  interested  him 
in  the  smallest  degree.  The  fame  of  it  seemed  to  have 
reached  him,  in  some  of  those  perilous  Indian  places  where 
his  wanderings  had  lain.  After  looking  at  it  silently  for  so 
long  a  time  that  Miss  Rachel  began  to  get  confused,  he  said 
to  her,  in  his  cool,  immovable  way,  "If  you  ever  go  to  India, 
Miss  Verinder,  don't  take  your  uncle's  birthday  gift  with  you. 
A  Hindoo  diamond  is  sometimes  a  part  of  a  Hindoo  religion. 
I  know  a  certain  city,  and  a  certain  temple  in  that  city,  where, 
dressed  as  you  are  now,  your  life  would  not  be  worth  five 
minutes'  purchase."  Miss  Rachel,  safe  in  England,  was 
quite  delighted  to  hear  of  her  danger  in  India.  The  Bouncers 
were  more  delighted  still :  they  dropped  their  knives  and  forks 
with  a  crash,  and  burst  out  together  vehemently,  "Oh !  how 
interesting!"  My  lady  fidgeted  in  her  chair,  and  changed 
the  subject. 

As  the  dinner  got  on  I  became  aware,  little  by  little,  that  this 
festival  was  not  prospering  as  other  like  festivals  had  pros- 
pered before  it. 

Looking  back  at  the  birthday  now,  by  the  light  of  what 
happened  afterward,  I  am  half  inclined  to  think  that  the 
cursed  Diamond  must  have  cast  a  blight  on  the  whole  com- 
pany. I  plied  them  well  with  wine ;  and,  being  a  privileged 
character,  followed  the  unpopular  dishes  round  the  table, 
and  whispered  to  the  company,  confidentially,  "Please  to 
change  your  mind,  and  try  it ;  for  I  know  it  will  do  you 
good."  Nine  times  out  of  ten  they  changed  their  minds — 
out  of  regard  for  their  old  original  Betteredge,  they  w^ere 
pleased  to  say — but  all  to  no  purpose.  There  were  gaps  of 
silence  in  the  talk,  as  the  dinner  got  on.  that  made  me  feel 
personally  uncomfortable.  When  they  did  use  their  tongues 
again,  they  used  them,  innocently,  in  the  most  unfortunate 
manner  and  to  the  worst  possible  purpose.  Mr.  Candy,  the 
doctor,  for  instance,  said  more  unlucky  things  than  I  ever 
knew  him  to  say  before.     Take  one  sample  of  the  way  in 

76 


THE  MOONSTONE 

which  he  went  on,  and  you  will  understand  what  I  had  to 
put  up  with  at  the  sideboard,  officiating  as  I  was  in  the  char- 
acter of  a  man  who  had  the  prosperity  of  the  festival  at 
heart. 

One  of  our  ladies  present  at  dinner  was  worthy  Mrs, 
Threadgall,  widow  of  the  late  Professor  of  that  name.  Talk- 
ing of  her  deceased  husband  perpetually,  this  good  lady  never 
mentioned  to  strangers  that  he  ivas  deceased.  She  thought, 
I  suppose,  that  every  able-bodied  adult  in  England  ought  to 
know  as  much  as  that.  In  one  of  the  gaps  of  silence  some- 
body mentioned  the  dry  and  rather  nasty  subject  of  human 
anatomy;  whereupon  good  Mrs.  Threadgall  straightway 
brought  in  her  late  husband  as  usual,  without  mentioning  that 
he  was  dead.  Anatomy  she  described  as  the  Professor's 
favorite  recreation  in  his  leisure  hours.  As  ill  luck  would 
have  it,  Mr.  Candy,  sitting  opposite,  who  knew  nothing  of 
the  deceased  gentleman,  heard  her.  Being  the  most  polite 
of  men,  he  seized  the  opportunity  of  assisting  the  Professor's 
anatomical  amusements  on  the  spot. 

"They  have  got  some  remarkably  fine  skeletons  lately  at 
the  College  of  Surgeons,"  says  Mr.  Candy,  across  the  table, 
in  a  loud,  cheerful  voice.  *T  strongly  recommend  the  Pro- 
fessor, ma'am,  when  he  next  has  an  hour  to  spare,  to  pay 
them,  a  visit." 

You  might  have  heard  a  pin  fall.  The  company,  out  of 
respect  to  the  Professor's  memory,  all  sat  speechless.  I  was 
behind  Mrs.  Threadgall  at  the  time,  plying  her  confidentially 
with  a  glass  of  hock.  She  dropped  her  head,  and  said,  in  a 
very  low  voice,  "My  beloved  husband  is  no  more." 

Unlucky  Mr.  Candy,  hearing  nothing,  and  miles  away  from 
suspecting  the  truth,  went  on  across  the  table  louder  and 
politer  than  ever. 

"The  Professor  may  not  be  aware,"  says  he,  "that  the  card 
of  a  member  of  the  College  will  admit  him,  on  any  day  but 
Sunday,  between  the  hours  of  ten  and  four." 

Mrs.  Threadgall  dropped  her  head  right  into  her  tucker, 
and,  in  a  lower  voice  still,  repeated  the  solemn  words,  "My 
beloved  husband  is  no  more." 

I  winked  hard  at  Mr.  Candy  across  the  table.  Miss  Rachel 
touched  his  arm.    My  lady  looked  unutterable  things  at  him. 

77 


THE  MOONSTONE 

Quite  useless !  On  he  went,  with  a  cordiality  that  there  was 
no  stopping  anyhow.  "I  shall  be  delighted,"  says  he,  "to 
send  the  Professor  my  card,  if  you  will  oblige  me  by  men- 
tioning his  present  address?" 

"His  present  address,  sir,  is  the  grave,"  says  Mrs.  Thread- 
gall,  suddenly  losing  her  temper,  and  speaking  with  an 
emphasis  and  fury  that  made  the  glasses  ring  again.  "The 
Professor  has  been  dead  these  ten  years !" 

"Oh,  good  heavens !"  says  Mr.  Candy.  Excepting  the 
Bouncers,  who  burst  out  laughing,  such  a  blank  now  fell  on 
the  company  that  they  might  all  have  been  going  the  way 
of  the  Professor,  and  hailing,  as  he  did,  from  the  direction 
of  the  grave. 

So  much  for  Mr.  Candy.  The  rest  of  them  were  nearly 
as  provoking  in  their  different  ways  as  the  doctor  himself. 
When  they  ought  to  have  spoken,  they  didn't  speak ;  or  when 
they  did  speak,  they  were  perpetually  at  cross-purposes.  Mr. 
Godfrey,  though  so  eloquent  in  public,  declined  to  exert  him- 
self in  private.  Whether  he  was  sulky,  or  whether  he  was 
bashful,  after  his  discomfiture  in  the  rose-garden,  I  can't  say. 
He  kept  all  his  talk  for  the  private  ear  of  the  lady  who  sat 
next  to  him.  She  was  one  of  his  committee-women — a  spiri- 
tually-minded person,  with  a  fine  show  of  collar-bone,  and  a 
pretty  taste  in  champagne ;  liked  it  dry,  you  understand,  and 
plenty  of  it.  Being  close  behind  these  two  at  the  sideboard, 
I  can  testify,  from  what  I  heard  pass  between  them,  that  the 
company  lost  a  good  deal  of  very  improving  conversation, 
which  I  caught  up  while  drawing  the  corks,  and  carving  the 
mutton,  and  so  forth.  What  they  said  about  their  charities 
I  didn't  hear.  When  I  had  time  to  listen  to  them,  they  had 
got  a  long  way  beyond  their  women  to  be  confined,  and  their 
women  to  be  rescued,  and  were  buckling  to  on  serious  sub- 
jects. Religion  (I  understood  them  to  say,  between  the  corks 
and  the  carving)  meant  love.  And  love  meant  religion.  And 
earth  was  heaven  a  little  the  worse  for  wear.  And  heaven 
was  earth,  done  up  again  to  look  like  new.  Earth  had  some 
very  objectionable  people  in  it ;  but,  to  make  amends  for  that, 
all  the  women  in  heaven  would  be  members  of  a  prodigious 
committee  that  never  quarreled,  wdth  all  the  men  in  atten- 
dance on  them  as  ministering  angels.     Beautiful !  beautiful ' 

78 


.L 


THE  MOONSTONE 

But  why  the  mischief  did  Mr.  Godfrey  keep  it  all  to  his  lady 
and  himself? 

Mr.  Franklin  again — surely,  you  will  say,  Mr.  Franklin 
stirred  the  company  up  into  making  a  pleasant  evening  of  it? 

Nothing  of  the  sort !  He  had  quite  recovered  himself,  and 
he  was  in  wonderful  force  and  spirits,  Penelope  having  in- 
formed him,  I  suspect,  of  Mr.  Godfrey's  reception  in  the  rose- 
garden.  But,  talk  as  he  might,  nine  times  out  of  ten  he 
pitched  on  the  wrong  subject,  or  he  addressed  himself  to  the 
wrong  person ;  the  end  of  it  being  that  he  offended  some,  and 
puzzled  all  of  them.  That  foreign  training  of  his — those 
French  and  German  and  Italian  sides  of  him,  to  which  I 
have  already  alluded,  came  out,  at  my  lady's  hospitable  board, 
in  a  most  bewildering  manner. 

What  do  you  think,  for  instance,  of  his  discussing  the 
lengths  to  which  a  married  woman  might  let  her  admiration 
go  for  a  man  who  was  not  her  husband,  and  putting  it  in  his 
clear-headed  witty  French  way  to  the  maiden  aunt  of  the 
Vicar  of  Frizinghall?  What  do  you  think,  when  he  shifted 
to  the  German  side,  of  his  telling  the  lord  of  the  manor,  while 
that  great  authority  on  cattle  was  quoting  his  experience  in 
the  breeding  of  bulls,  that  experience,  properly  understood, 
counted  for  nothing,  and  that  the  proper  way  to  breed  bulls 
was  to  look  deep  into  your  own  mind,  evolve  out  of  it  the 
idea  of  a  perfect  bull,  and  produce  him?  What  do  you  say, 
when  our  county  member,  growing  hot  at  cheese  and  salad 
time,  about  the  spread  of  democracy  in  England,  burst  out 
as  follows :  "If  we  once  lose  our  ancient  safeguards,  Mr. 
Blake,  I  beg  to  ask  you,  what  have  we  got  left?" — what  do 
you  say  to  Mr.  Franklin  answering,  from  the  Italian  point 
of  view :  "We  have  got  three  things  left,  sir — Love,  Music, 
and  Salad"?  He  not  only  terrified  the  company  with  such 
outbreaks  as  these,  but,  when  the  English  side  of  him  turned 
up  in  due  course,  he  lost  his  foreign  smoothness ;  and,  getting 
on  the  subject  of  the  medical  profession,  said  such  downright 
things  in  ridicule  of  doctors,  that  he  actually  put  good- 
humored  little  Mr.  Candy  in  a  rage. 

The  dispute  between  them  began  in  Mr.  Franklin  being 
led — I  forget  how — to  acknowledge  that  he  had  latterly  slept 
very  badly  at  night.    Mr.  Candy  thereupon  told  him  that  his 

79 


THE  MOONSTONE 

nerves  were  all  out  of  order,  and  that  he  ought  to  go  through 
a  course  of  medicine  immediately.  Mr.  Franklin  replied 
that  a  course  of  medicine  and  a  course  of  groping  in  the 
dark,  meant,  in  his  estimation,  one  and  the  same  thing.  Mr. 
Candy,  hitting  back  smartly,  said  that  Mr.  Franklin  himself 
was,  constitutionally  speaking,  groping  in  the  dark  after  sleep, 
and  that  nothing  but  medicine  could  help  him  to  find  it.  Mr. 
Franklin,  keeping  the  ball  up  on  his  side,  said  he  had  often 
heard  of  the  blind  leading  the  blind,  and  now,  for  the  first 
time,  he  knew  what  it  meant.  In  this  way  they  kept  it  going 
briskly,  cut  and  thrust,  till  they  both  of  them  got  hot — Mr. 
Candy,  in  particular,  so  completely  losing  his  self-control,  in 
defense  of  his  profession,  that  my  lady  was  obliged  to  inter- 
fere, and  forbid  the  dispute  to  go  on.  This  necessary  act  of 
authority  put  the  last  extinguisher  on  the  spirits  of  the  com- 
pany. The  talk  spurted  up  again  here  and  there,  for  a  minute 
or  two  at  a  time ;  but  there  was  a  miserable  lack  of  life  and 
sparkle  in  it.  The  Devil,  or  the  Diamond,  possessed  that 
dinner  party ;  and  it  was  a  relief  to  every  body  when  my 
mistress  rose,  and  gave  the  ladies  the  signal  to  leave  the 
gentlemen  over  their  wine. 

I  HAD  just  ranged  the  decanters  in  a  row  before  old  Mr.  Able- 
white,  who  represented  the  master  of  the  house,  when  there 
came  a  sound  from  the  terrace  which  startled  me  out  of  my 
company  manners  on  the  instant.  Mr.  Franklin  and  I  looked 
at  each  other ;  it  was  the  sound  of  the  Indian  drum.  As  I 
live  by  bread,  here  were  the  jugglers  returning  to  us  with 
the  return  of  the  Moonstone  to  the  house ! 

As  they  rounded  the  corner  of  the  terrace,  and  came  in 
sight,  I  hobbled  out  to  warn  them  off.  But,  as  ill-luck  would 
have  it,  the  two  Bouncers  were  beforehand  with  me.  They 
whizzed  out  on  to  the  terrace  like  a  couple  of  sky-rockets, 
wild  to  see  the  Indians  exhibit  their  tricks.  The  other  ladies 
followed ;  the  gentlemen  came  out  on  their  side.  Before  you 
could  say  "Lord,  bless  us !"  the  rogues  were  making  their 
salams ;  and  the  Bouncers  were  kissing  the  pretty  little  boy. 

Mr.  Franklin  got  on  one  side  of  Miss  Rachel,  and  I  put 
myself  behind  her.     If  our  suspicions  were  right,  there  she 

80 


THE  MOONSTONE 

stood,  innocent  of  all  knowledge  of  the  truth,  showing  the 
Indians  the  Diamond  in  the  bosom  of  her  dress ! 

I  can't  tell  you  what  tricks  they  performed,  or  how  they 
did  it.  What  with  the  vexation  about  the  dinner,  and  what 
with  the  provocation  of  the  rogues  coming  back  just  in  the 
nick  of  time  to  see  the  jewel  with  their  own  eyes,  I  own  I 
lost  my  head.  The  first  thing  that  I  remember  noticing  was 
the  sudden  appearance  on  the  scene  of  the  Indian  traveler, 
Mr.  Murthwaite.  Skirting  the  half-circle  in  which  the  gentle- 
folks stood  or  sat,  he  came  quietly  behind  the  jugglers,  and 
spoke  to  them  on  a  sudden  in  the  language  of  their  own 
country. 

If  he  had  pricked  them  with  a  bayonet,  I  doubt  if  the 
Indians  could  have  started  and  turned  on  him  with  more 
tigerish  quickness  than  they  did  on  hearing  the  first  words 
that  passed  his  lips.  The  next  moment  they  were  bowing  and 
salaming  to  him  in  their  most  polite  and  snaky  way.  After 
a  few  words  in  the  unknown  tongue  had  passed  on  either 
side,  Mr.  Murthwaite  withdrew  as  quietly  as  he  had  ap- 
proached. The  chief  Indian,  who  acted  as  an  interpreter, 
thereupon  wheeled  about  again  toward  the  gentlefolks.  I 
noticed  that  the  fellow's  coffee-colored  face  had  turned  gray 
since  Mr.  Murthwaite  had  spoken  to  him.  He  bowed  to  my 
lady,  and  informed  her  that  the  exhibition  was  over.  The 
Bouncers,  indescribably  disappointed,  burst  out  with  a  loud 
"Oh !"  directed  against  Mr.  Murthwaite  for  stopping  the  per- 
formance. The  chief  Indian  laid  his  hand  humbly  on  his 
breast,  and  said  the  second  time  that  the  juggling  was  over. 
The  little  boy  went  round  with  the  hat.  The  ladies  withdrew 
to  the  drawing-room ;  and  the  gentlemen,  excepting  Mr. 
Franklin  and  Mr.  Murthwaite,  returned  to  their  wine.  I  and 
the  footman  followed  the  Indians,  and  saw  them  safe  off  the 
premises. 

Going  back  by  way  of  the  shrubbery,  I  smelled  tobacco, 
and  found  Mr.  Franklin  and  Mr.  Murthwaite,  the  latter 
smoking  a  cheroot,  walking  slowly  up  and  down  among  the 
trees.    Mr.  Franklin  beckoned  to  me  to  join  them. 

"This,"  says  Mr.  Franklin,  presenting  me  to  the  great 
traveler,  "is  Gabriel  Betteredge,  the  old  servant  and  friend 
«  8i 


THE  MOONSTONE 

of  our  family  of  whom  I  spoke  to  you  just  now.     Tell  him, 
if  you  please,  what  you  have  just  told  me." 

Mr.  Murthwaitc  took  his  cheroot  out  of  his  mouth  and 
leaned,  in  his  weary  way,  against  the  trunk  of  a  tree. 

"Mr.  Betteredge,"  he  began,  "those  three  Indians  are  no 
more  jugglers  than  you  and  I  are." 

Here  was  a  new  surprise !  I  naturally  asked  the  traveler 
if  he  had  ever  met  with  the  Indians  before. 

"Never,"  says  Mr.  Murthwaite ;  "but  I  know  what  Indian 
juggling  really  is.  All  you  have  seen  to-night  is  a  very  bad 
and  clumsy  imitation  of  it.  Unless,  after  long  experience,  I 
am  utterly  mistaken,  those  men  are  high-caste  Brahmans.  I 
charged  them  with  being  disguised,  and  you  f-.w  how  it  told 
on  them,  clever  as  the  Hindoo  people  are  in  concealing  their 
feelings.  There  is  a  mystery  about  their  conduct  that  I  can't 
explain.  They  have  doubly  sacrificed  their  caste — first,  in 
crossing  the  sea;  secondly,  in  disguising  themselves  as  jug- 
glers. In  the  land  they  live  in  that  is  a  tremendous  sacrifice 
to  make.  There  must  be  some  very  serious  motive  at  the 
bottom  of  it,  and  some  justification  of  no  ordinary  kind  to 
plead  for  them,  in  recovery  of  their  caste,  when  they  return 
to  their  own  country." 

I  was  struck  dumb.  Mr.  Murthwaite  went  on  with  his 
cheroot.  Mr.  Franklin,  after  what  looked  to  me  like  a  little 
private  veering  about  between  the  different  sides  of  his  char- 
acter, broke  the  silence  as  follows,  speaking  in  his  nice  Italian 
manner,  with  his  solid  English  foundation  showing  through : 

"I  feel  some  hesitation,  Mr.  Murthwaite,  in  troubling  you 
with  family  matters,  in  which  you  can  have  no  interest,  and 
which  I  am  not  very  willing  to  speak  of  out  of  our  own  circle. 
But,  after  what  you  have  said,  I  feel  bound,  in  the  interests 
of  Lady  Verinder  and  her  daughter,  to  tell  you  something 
which  may  possibly  put  the  clue  into  your  hands.  I  speak 
to  you  in  confidence ;  you  will  oblige  me,  I  am  sure,  by  not 
forgetting  that?" 

With  this  preface  he  told  the  Indian  traveler  (speaking 
now  in  his  clear-headed  French  way)  all  that  he  had  told 
me  at  the  Shivering  Sand.  Even  the  immovable  Mr. 
Murthwaite  was  so  interested  in  what  he  heard  that  he  let 
his  cheroot  go  out.  x 

82 

i 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Now,"  says  Mr.  Franklin,  when  he  had  done,  "what  does 
your  experience  say?" 

"My  experience,"  answered  the  traveler,  "says  that  you 
have  had  more  narrow  escapes  of  your  life,  Mr.  Franklin 
Blake,  than  I  have  had  of  mine;  and  that  is  saying  a  great 
deal." 

It  was  Mr.  Franklin's  turn  to  be  astonished  now. 

"Is  it  really  as  serious  as  that  ?"  he  asked. 

"In  my  opinion  it  is,"  answered  Mr.  Murthwaite.  "I  can't 
doubt,  after  what  you  have  told  me,  that  the  restoration  of 
the  Moonstone  to  its  place  on  the  forehead  of  the  Indian  idol, 
is  the  motive  and  the  justification  of  that  sacrifice  of  caste 
which  I  alluded  to  just  now.  Those  men  will  wait  their 
opportunity  with  the  patience  of  cats,  and  will  use  it  with  the 
ferocity  of  tigers.  Flow  you  have  escaped  them  I  can't 
imagine,"  says  the  eminent  traveler,  lighting  his  cheroot 
again,  and  staring  hard  at  Mr.  Franklin.  "You  have  been 
carrying  the  Diamond  backward  and  forward,  here  and  in 
London,  and  you  are  still  a  living  man !  Let  us  try  and 
account  for  it.  It  was  daylight,  both  times,  I  suppose,  when 
you  took  the  jewel  out  of  the  bank  in  London?" 

"Broad  daylight,"  says  Mr.  Franklin. 

"And  plenty  of  people  in  the  streets?" 

"Plenty." 

"You  settled,  of  course,  to  arrive  at  Lady  Verinder's  house 
at  a  certain  time?  It's  a  lonely  country  between  this  and 
the  station.    Did  you  keep  your  appointment  ?" 

"No.     I  arrived  four  hours  earlier  than  my  appointment." 

"I  beg  to  congratulate  you  on  that  proceeding!  When 
did  you  take  the  Diamond  to  the  bank  at  the  town  here?" 

"I  took  it  an  hour  after  I  had  brought  it  to  this  house — 
and  three  hours  before  any  body  was  prepared  for  seeing  me 
in  these  parts." 

"I  beg  to  congratulate  you  again !  Did  you  bring  it  back 
here  alone?" 

"No.  I  happened  to  ride  back  with  my  cousins  and  the 
groom." 

"I  beg  to  congratulate  you  for  the  third  time !  If  you  ever 
feel  inclined  to  travel  beyond  the  civilized  limits,  Mr.  Blake, 
let  me  know,  and  I  will  go  with  you.    You  are  a  lucky  man." 

83 


THE  MOONSTONE 

Here  I  struck  in.  This  sort  of  thing  didn't  at  all  square 
with  my  English  ideas. 

"You  don't  really  mean  to  say,  sir,"  I  asked,  "that  they 
would  have  taken  Mr.  Franklin's  life,  to  get  their  Diamond, 
if  he  had  given  them  the  chance?" 

"Do  you  smoke,  Mr.  Betteredge?"  says  the  traveler. 

"Yes,  sir." 

"Do  you  care  much  for  the  ashes  left  in  your  pipe  when 
you  empty  it?" 

"No,  sir." 

"In  the  country  those  men  came  from  they  care  just  as 
much  about  killing  a  man  as  you  care  about  emptying  the 
ashes  out  of  your  pipe.  If  a  thousand  lives  stood  between 
them  and  the  getting  back  of  their  Diamond — and  if  they 
thought  they  could  destroy  those  lives  without  discovery — 
they  would  take  them  all.  The  sacrifice  of  caste  is  a  serious 
thing  in  India,  if  you  like.  The  sacrifice  of  life  is  nothing 
at  afl." 

I  expressed  my  opinion  upon  this  that  they  were  a  set  of 
murdering  thieves.  Mr.  Murthwaite  expressed  his  opinion 
that  they  were  a  wonderful  people.  Mr.  Franklin,  expressing 
no  opinion  at  all,  brought  us  back  to  the  matter  in  hand. 

"They  have  seen  the  Moonstone  on  Miss  Verinder's  dress," 
he  said.     "What  is  to  be  done?" 

"What  your  uncle  threatened  to  do,"  answered  Mr. 
Murthwaite.  "Colonel  Herncastle  understood  the  people  he 
had  to  deal  with.  Send  the  Diamond  to-morrow,  under  guard 
of  more  than  one  man,  to  be  cut  up  at  Amsterdam.  Make 
half  a  dozen  diamonds  of  it  instead  of  one.  There  is  an  end 
of  its  sacred  identity  as  The  Moonstone — and  there  is  an  end 
of  the  conspiracy." 

Mr.  Franklin  turned  to  me. 

"There  is  no  help  for  it,"  he  said.  "We  must  speak  to 
Lady  Verinder  to-morrow." 

"What  about  to-night,  sir?"  I  asked.  "Suppose  the  Indians 
come  back?" 

Mr.  Murthwaite  answered  me  before  ]\Ir.  Franklin  could 
speak. 

"The  Indians  won't  risk  coming  back  to-night,"  he  said. 
"The  direct  way  is  hardly  ever  the  way  they  take  to  any  thing 

84 


! 


THE  MOONSTONE 

— let  alone  a  matter  like  this,  in  which  the  slightest  mistake 
might  be  fatal  to  their  reaching  their  end." 

"But  suppose  the  rogues  are  bolder  than  you  think,  sir?" 
I  persisted. 

"In  that  case,"  says  Mr.  ]\Iurthwaite,  "let  the  dogs  loose. 
Have  you  got  any  big  dog  in  the  yard  ?" 

"Two,  sir.    A  mastiff  and  a  blood-hound." 

"They  will  do.  In  the  present  emergency,  Mr.  Betteredge, 
the  mastiff  and  the  blood-hound  have  one  great  merit — they 
are  not  likely  to  be  troubled  with  your  scruples  about  the 
sanctity  of  human  life." 

The  strumming  of  the  piano  reached  us  from  the  drawing- 
room  as  he  fired  that  shot  at  me.  He  threw  away  his  cheroot, 
and  took  Mr.  Franklin's  arm,  to  go  back  to  the  ladies.  I 
noticed  that  the  sky  was  clouding  over  fast  as  I  followed 
them  to  the  house.  Mr.  Murthwaite  noticed  it  too.  He 
looked  round  at  me  in  his  dry,  drolling  way,  and  said : 

"The  Indians  will  want  their  umbrellas,  Mr.  Betteredge, 
to-night !" 

It  was  all  very  well  for  him  to  joke.  But  I  was  not  an 
eminent  traveler;  and  my  way  in  this  world  had  not  led  me 
into  playing  ducks  and  drakes  with  my  own  life  among 
thieves  and  murderers  in  the  outlandish  places  of  the  earth. 
I  went  into  my  own  little  room,  and  sat  down  in  my  chair 
in  a  perspiration,  and  wondered  helplessly  what  was  to  be 
done  next.  In  this  anxious  frame  of  mind  other  men  might 
have  ended  by  working  themselves  up  into  a  fever;  /  ended 
in  a  different  way.  I  lit  my  pipe,  and  took  a  turn  at  Robinson 
Crusoe. 

Before  I  had  been  at  it  five  minutes  I  came  to  this  amazing 
bit — page  one  hundred  and  sixty-one — as  follows  : 

"Fear  of  Danger  is  ten  thousand  times  more  terrifying 
than  Danger  itself,  when  apparent  to  the  Eyes ;  and  we  find 
the  Burden  of  Anxiety  greater,  by  much,  than  the  Evil  which 
we  are  anxious  about." 

The  man  who  doesn't  believe  in  Robinson  Crusoe  after  that 
is  a  man  with  a  screw  loose  in  his  understanding,  or  a  man 
lost  in  the  mist  of  his  own  self-conceit !  Argument  is  thrown 
away  upon  him ;  and  pity  is  better  reserved  for  some  person 
with  a  livelier  faith. 

85 


THE  MOONSTONE 

I  was  far  on  with  my  second  pipe,  and  still  lost  in  admira- 
tion of  that  wonderful  book,  when  Penelope  (who  had  been 
handing  round  the  tea)  came  in  with  her  report  from  the 
drawing-room.  She  had  left  the  Bouncers  singing  a  duet — 
words  beginning  with  a  large  *'0,"  and  music  to  correspond. 
She  had  observed  that  my  lady  made  mistakes  in  her  game 
of  whist  for  the  first  time  in  our  experience  of  her.  She  had 
seen  the  great  traveler  asleep  in  a  corner.  She  had  over- 
heard Mr.  Franklin  sharpening  his  wits  on  Mr.  Godfrey,  at 
the  expense  of  Ladies'  Charities  in  general ;  and  she  had 
noticed  that  Mr.  Godfrey  hit  him  back  again  rather  more 
smartly  than  became  a  gentleman  of  his  benevolent  character. 
She  had  detected  Miss  Rachel,  apparently  engaged  in  appeas- 
ing Mrs.  Threadgall  by  showing  her  some  photographs,  and 
really  occupied  in  stealing  looks  at  Mr.  Franklin,  which  no 
intelligent  lady's-maid  could  misinterpret  for  a  single  instant. 
Finally,  she  had  missed  Mr.  Candy,  the  doctor,  who  had 
mysteriously  disappeared  from  the  drawing-room,  and  had 
then  mysteriously  returned,  and  entered  into  conversation 
with  Mr.  Godfrey.  Upon  the  whole,  things  were  prospering 
better  than  the  experience  of  the  dinner  gave  us  any  right 
to  expect.  If  we  could  only  hold  on  for  another  hour,  old 
Father  Time  would  bring  up  their  carriages,  and  relieve  us 
of  them  altogether. 

Every  thing  wears  off  in  this  world ;  and  even  the  com- 
forting effect  of  Robinson  Crusoe  wore  off  after  Penelope 
left  me.  I  got  fidgety  again,  and  resolved  on  making  a  survey 
of  the  grounds  before  the  rain  came.  Instead  of  taking  the 
footman,  whose  nose  was  human,  and  therefore  useless  in  any 
emergency,  I  took  the  blood-hound  with  me.  His  nose  for 
a  stranger  was  to  be  depended  on.  We  went  all  round  the 
premises,  and  out  into  the  road — and  returned  as  wise  as 
we  went,  having  discovered  no  such  thing  as  a  lurking  human 
creature  anywhere.  I  chained  up  the  dog  again  for  the 
present ;  and,  returning  once  more  by  way  of  the  shrubbery, 
met  two  of  our  gentlemen  coming  out  toward  me  from  the 
drawing-room.  The  two  were  Mr.  Candy  and  Mr.  Godfrey, 
still,  as  Penelope  had  reported  them,  in  conversation  together, 
and  laughing  softly  over  some  pleasant  conceit  of  their  own. 
I  thought  it  rather  odd  that  those  two  should  have  run  up 

86 


I 


THE  MOONSTONE 

a  friendship  together — but  passed  on,  of  course,  without 
appearing  to  notice  them. 

The  arrival  of  the  carriages  was  the  signal  for  the  arrival 
of  the  rain.  It  poured  as  if  it  meant  to  pour  all  night.  With 
the  exception  of  the  doctor,  whose  gig  was  waiting  for  him, 
the  rest  of  the  company  went  home  snugly  under  cover  in 
close  carriages.  I  told  Mr.  Candy  that  I  was  afraid  he  would 
get  wet  through.  He  told  me,  in  return,  that  he  wondered  I 
had  arrived  at  my  time  of  life  without  knowing  that  a  doctor's 
skin  was  water-proof.  So  he  drove  away  in  the  rain,  laugh- 
ing over  his  own  little  joke ;  and  so  we  got  rid  of  our  dinner 
company. 

The  next  thing  to  tell  is  the  story  of  the  night. 


CHAPTER   XI. 

WHEN  the  last  of  the  guests  had  driven  away  I  went 
back  into  the  inner  hall,  and  found  Samuel  at  the  side- 
table,  presiding  over  the  brandy  and  soda-water.  My  lady 
and  Miss  Rachel  came  out  of  the  drawing-room,  followed 
by  the  two  gentlemen.  Mr.  Godfrey  had  some  brandy  and 
soda-water.  Mr.  Franklin  took  nothing.  He  sat  down,  look- 
ing dead  tired ;  the  talking  on  this  birthday  occasion  had,  I 
suppose,  been  too  much  for  him. 

My  lady,  turning  round  to  wish  them  good-night,  looked 
hard  at  the  wicked  Colonel's  legacy  shining  in  her  daughter's 
dress. 

"Rachel,"  she  asked,  "where  are  you  going  to  put  your 
Diamond  to-night?" 

Miss  Rachel  was  in  high  good  spirits,  just  in  that  humor 
for  talking  nonsense,  and  perversely  persisting  in  it  as  if  it 
was  sense,  which  you  may  sometimes  have  observed  in  young 
girls  when  they  are  highly  wrought  up,  at  the  end  of  an 
exciting  day.  First,  she  declared  she  didn't  know-  where  to 
put  the  Diamond.  Then  she  said,  "On  my  dressing-table, 
of  course,  along  with  the  other  things."  Then  she  remem- 
bered that  the  Diamond  might  take  to  shining  of  itself,  with 
its  awful  moony  light,  in  the  dark,  and  that  would  terrify  her 

87 


THE  MOONSTONE 

in  the  dead  of  night.  Then  she  bethought  herself  of  an  Indian 
cabinet  which  stood  in  her  sitting-room,  and  instantly  made 
up  her  mind  to  put  the  Indian  diamond  in  the  Indian  cabinet 
for  the  purpose  of  permitting  two  beautiful  native  produc- 
tions to  admire  each  other.  Having  let  her  little  flow  of  non- 
sense run  on  as  far  as  that  point,  her  mother  interposed  and 
stopped  her. 

"My  dear !  your  Indian  cabinet  has  no  lock  to  it,"  says  my 
lady. 

"Good  heavens,  mamma !"  cries  Miss  Rachel,  "is  this  a 
hotel  ?     Are  there  thieves  in  the  house  ?" 

Without  taking  notice  of  this  fantastic  way  of  talking,  my 
lady  wished  the  gentlemen  good-night.  She  next  turned  to 
Miss  Rachel,  and  kissed  her.  "Why  not  let  nie  keep  the 
Diamond  for  you  to-night?"  she  asked. 

Miss  Rachel  received  that  proposal  as  she  might,  ten  years 
since,  have  received  a  proposal  to  part  her  from  a  new  doll. 
My  lady  saw  there  was  no  reasoning  with  her  that  night. 
"Come  into  my  room,  Rachel,  the  first  thing  to-morrow  morn- 
ing," she  said.  "I  shall  have  something  to  say  to  you."  With 
those  last  words  she  left  us  slowly ;  thinking  her  own  thoughts, 
and,  to  all  appearance,  not  best  pleased  with  the  way  by  which 
they  were  leading  her. 

Miss  Rachel  was  the  next  to  say  good-night.  She  shook 
hands  first  with  Mr.  Godfrey,  who  was  standing  at  the  other 
end  of  the  hall,  looking  at  a  picture.  Then  she  turned  back 
to  Mr.  Franklin,  still  sitting  weary  and  silent  in  a  corner. 

What  words  passed  between  them  I  can't  say.  But  stand- 
ing near  the  old  oak  frame  which  holds  our  large  looking- 
glass,  I  saw  her,  reflected  in  it,  slyly  slipping  the  locket  which 
Mr.  Franklin  had  given  to  her  out  of  the  bosom  of  her  dress, 
and  showing  it  to  him  for  a  moment,  with  a  smile  which 
certainly  meant  something  out  of  the  common,  before  she 
tripped  off  to  bed.  This  incident  staggered  me  a  little  in  the 
reliance  I  had  previously  felt  on  my  own  judgment.  I  began 
to  think  that  Penelope  might  be  right  about  the  state  of  her 
young  lady's-  affections  after  all. 

As  soon  as  Miss  Rachel  left  him  eyes  to  see  with,  Mr. 
Franklin  noticed  me.  His  variable  humor,  shifting  about 
every  thing,  had  shifted  about  the  Indians  already. 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Betteredge,"  he  said,  "I  am  half  inclined  to  think  I  took 
Mr.  Murthvvaite  too  seriously  when  we  had  that  talk  in  the 
shrubbery.  I  wonder  whether  he  has  been  trying  any  of  his 
traveler's  tales  on  us?  Do  you  really  mean  to  let  the  dogs 
loose  ?" 

"I'll  relieve  them  of  their  collars,  sir,"  I  answered,  "and 
leave  them  free  to  take  a  turn  in  the  night,  if  they  smell  a 
reason  for  it." 

"All  right,"  says  Mr.  Franklin.  "We'll  see  what  is  to  be 
done  to-morrow.  I  am  not  at  all  disposed  to  alarm  my  aunt, 
Betteredge,  without  a  very  pressing  reason  for  it.  Good- 
night." 

He  looked  so  worn  and  pale  as  he  nodded  to  me,  and  took 
his  candle  to  go  up  stairs,  that  I  ventured  to  advise  his  having 
a  drop  of  brandy-and-water,  by  way  of  night-cap.  Mr.  God- 
frey, walking  toward  us  from  the  other  end  of  the  hall, 
backed  me.  He  pressed  Mr.  Franklin,  in  the  friendliest  man- 
ner, to  take  something  before  he  went  to  bed. 

I  only  note  these  trifling  circumstances,  because,  after  all 
I  had  seen  and  heard  that  day,  it  pleased  me  to  observe  that 
our  two  gentlemen  were  on  just  as  good  terms  as  ever.  Their 
warfare  of  words,  heard  by  Penelope  in  the  drawing-room, 
and  their  rivalry  for  the  best  place  in  Miss  Rachel's  good 
graces,  seemed  to  have  set  no  serious  difference  between  them. 
But  there !  they  were  both  good-tempered,  and  both  men  of 
the  world.  And  there  is  certainly  this  merit  in  people  of 
station,  that  they  are  not  nearly  so  quarrelsome  among  each 
other  as  people  of  no  station  at  all. 

Mr.  Franklin  declined  the  brandy-and-water,  and  went  up 
stairs  with  Mr.  Godfrey,  their  rooms  being  next  door  to  each 
other.  On  the  landing,  however,  either  his  cousin  persuaded 
him,  or  he  veered  about  and  changed  his  mind  as  usual. 
"Perhaps  I  may  want  it  in  the  night,"  he  called  down  to  me. 
"Send  up  some  brandy  into  my  room." 

I  sent  up  Samuel  with  the  brandy-and-water;  and  then 
went  out  and  unbuckled  the  dogs'  collars.  They  both  lost 
their  heads  with  astonishment  on  being  set  loose  at  that  time 
of  night,  and  jumped  upon  me  like  a  couple  of  puppies! 
However,  the  rain  soon  cooled  them  down  again :  they  lapped 
a  drop  of  water  each,  and  crept  back  into  their  kennels.     As 


THE  MOONSTONE 

I  went  into  the  house  I  noticed  signs  in  the  sky  which 
betokened  a  break  in  the  weather  for  the  better.  For  the 
present,  it  still  poured  heavily,  and  the  ground  was  in  a  per- 
fect sop. 

Samuel  and  I  went  all  over  the  house,  and  shut  up  as  usual. 
I  examined  every  thing  myself,  and  trusted  nothing  to  my 
deputy  on  this  occasion.  All  was  safe  and  fast  when  I 
rested  my  old  bones  in  bed,  between  midnight  and  one  in  the 
morning. 

The  worries  of  the  day  had  been  a  little  too  much  for  me, 
I  suppose.  At  any  rate,  I  had  a  touch  of  Mr.  Franklin's 
malady  that  night.  It  was  sunrise  before  I  fell  off  at  last 
into  a  sleep.  All  the  time  I  lay  awake  the  house  was  as 
quiet  as  the  grave.  Not  a  sound  stirred  but  the  splash  of 
the  rain,  and  the  sighing  of  the  wind  among  the  trees  as  a 
breeze  sprang  up  with  the  morning. 

About  half-past  seven  I  woke,  and  opened  my  window  on  a 
fine  sunshiny  day.  The  clock  had  struck  eight,  and  I 
was  just  going  out  to  chain  vip  the  dogs  again,  when  I 
heard  a  sudden  whisking  of  petticoats  on  the  stairs  be- 
hind me. 

I  turned  about,  and  there  was  Penelope  flying  down  after 
me  like  mad.  "Father !"  she  screamed,  "come  up  stairs,  for 
God's  sake  !    The  Diamond  is  gone!" 

"Are  you  out  of  your  mind?"  I  asked  her. 

"Gone!"  says  Penelope.  "Gone,  nobody  knows  how! 
Come  up  and  see." 

She  dragged  me  after  her  into  her  young  lady's  sitting- 
room,  which  opened  into  her  bedroom.  There,  on  the  thresh- 
old of  her  bedroom  door,  stood  Miss  Rachel,  almost  as  white 
in  the  face  as  the  white  dressing-gown  that  clothed  her. 
There  also  stood  the  two  doors  of  the  Indian  cabinet,  wide 
open.  One  of  the  drawers  inside  was  pulled  out  as  far  as  it 
would  go. 

"Look !"  says  Penelope.  "I  myself  saw  Miss  Rachel  put 
the  Diamond  into  that  drawer  last  night." 

I  went  to  the  cabinet.    The  drawer  was  empty. 

"Is  this  true,  miss?"  I  asked. 

With  a  look  that  was  not  like  herself,  with  a  voice  that 

9^ 


THE  MOONSTONE 

was  not  like  her  own,  Miss  Rachel  answered,  as  my  daughter 
had  answered : 

"The  Diamond  is  gone." 

Having  said  those  words,  she  withdrew  into  her  bedroom, 
and  shut  and  locked  the  door. 

Before  we  knew  which  way  to  turn  next  my  lady  came 
in,  hearing  my  voice  in  her  daughter's  sitting-room,  and  won- 
dering what  had  happened.  The  news  of  the  loss  of  the 
Diamond  seemed  to  petrify  her.  She  went  straight  to  Miss 
Rachel's  bedroom  and  insisted  on  being  admitted.  Miss 
Rachel  let  her  in. 

The  alarm,  running  through  the  house  like  fire,  caught  the 
two  gentlemen  next. 

Mr.  Godfrey  was  the  first  to  come  out  of  his  room.  All 
he  did  when  he  heard  what  had  happened  was  to  hold  up 
his  hands  in  a  state  of  bewilderment,  which  didn't  say  much 
for  his  natural  strength  of  mind.  Mr.  Franklin,  whose  clear 
head  I  had  confidently  counted  on  to  advise  us,  seemed  to 
be  as  helpless  as  his  cousin  when  he  heard  the  news  in  hi& 
turn.  For  a  wonder,  he  had  had  a  good  night's  rest  at  last ; 
and  the  unaccustomed  luxury  of  sleep  had,  as  he  said  him- 
self, apparently  stupefied  him.  However,  when  he  had  swal- 
lowed his  cup  of  coffee — which  he  always  took,  on  the  foreign 
plan,  some  hours  before  he  ate  any  breakfast — his  brains 
brightened ;  the  clear-headed  side  of  him  turned  up,  and  he 
took  the  matter  in  hand,  resolutely  and  cleverly,  much  as 
follows : 

He  first  sent  for  the  servants,  and  told  them  to  leave  all 
the  lower  doors  and  windows,  with  the  exception  of  the 
front  door,  which  I  had  opened,  exactly  as  they  had  been 
left  when  we  locked  up  overnight.  He  next  proposed  to  his 
cousin  and  me  to  make  quite  sure,  before  we  took  any  further 
steps,  that  the  Diamond  had  not  accidentally  dropped  some- 
where out  of  sight — say  at  the  back  of  the  cabinet,  or  down 
behind  the  table  on  which  the  cabinet  stood.  Having  searched 
in  both  places,  and  found  nothing — having  also  questioned 
Penelope,  and  discovered  from  her  no  more  than  the  little 
she  had  already  told  me — Mr.  Franklin  suggested  next  ex- 
tending our  inquiries  to  Miss  Rachel,  and  sent  Penelope  to 
knock  at  her  bedroom  door. 

91 


THE  MOONSTONE 

My  lady  answered  the  knock  and  closed  the  door  behind 
her.  The  moment  after  we  heard  it  locked  inside  by  Miss 
Rachel.  My  mistress  came  out  among  us,  looking  sorely 
puzzled  and  distressed.  "The  loss  of  the  Diamond  seems  to 
have  quite  overwhelmed  Rachel,"  she  said,  in  reply  to  Mr. 
Franklin.  "She  shrinks,  in  the  strangest  manner,  from  speak- 
ing of  it,  even  to  me.  It  is  impossible  you  can  see  her  for 
the  present." 

Having  added  to  our  perplexities  by  this  account  of  Miss 
Rachel,  my  lady,  after  a  little  effort,  recovered  her  usual 
composure,  and  acted  with  her  usual  decision. 

"1  suppose  there  is  no  help  for  it?"  she  said,  quietly.  "I 
suppose  I  have  no  alternative  but  to  send  for  the  police?" 

"And  the  first  thing  for  the  police  to  do,"  added  Mr. 
Franklin,  catching  her  up,  "is  to  lay  hands  on  the  Indian 
jugglers  who  performed  here  last  night." 

My  lady  and  Mr.  Godfrey  (not  knowing  what  Mr.  Frank- 
lin and  I  knew)  both  started,  and  both  looked  surprised. 
■  "I  can't  stop  to  explain  myself  now,"  Mr.  Franklin  went 
on.  "I  can  only  tell  you  that  the  Indians  have  certainly 
stolen  the  Diamond.  Give  me  a  letter  of  introduction,"  says 
he,  addressing  my  lady,  "to  one  of  the  magistrates  at  Frizing- 
hall — merely  telling  him  that  I  represent  your  interests  and 
wishes,  and  let  me  ride  off  with  it  instantly.  Our  chance  of 
catching  the  thieves  may  depend  on  our  not  wasting  one  un- 
necessary minute."  (Nota  bene:  Whether  it  was  the  French 
side  or  the  English,  the  right  side  of  Mr.  Franklin  seemed 
to  be  uppermost  now.  The  only  question  was,  How  long 
would  it  last?) 

He  put  pen,  ink,  and  paper  before  his  aunt,  who,  as  it 
appeared  to  me,  wrote  the  letter  he  wanted  a  little  unwill- 
ingly. If  it  had  been  possible  to  overlook  such  an  event  as 
the  loss  of  a  jewel  worth  twenty  thousand  pounds,  I  believe — 
with  my  lady's  opinion  of  her  late  brother,  and  her  distrust 
of  his  birthday-gift — it  would  have  been  privately  a  relief 
to  her  to  let  the  thieves  get  ofif  with  the  Moonstone  scot-free. 

I  went  out  with  Mr.  Franklin  to  the  stables,  and  took  the 
opportunity  of  asking  him  how  the  Indians,  whom  I  sus- 
pected, of  course,  as  shrewdly  as  he  did,  could  possibly  have 
got  into  the  house. 

92 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"One  of  them  might  have  sHpped  into  the  hall,  in  the  con- 
fusion, when  the  dinner-company  were  going  away,"  says 
Mr.  Franklin.  "The  fellow  may  have  been  under  the  sofa 
while  my  aunt  and  Rachel  were  talking  about  where  the  Dia- 
mond was  to  be  put  for  the  night.  He  would  only  have  to 
wait  till  the  house  was  quiet,  and  there  it  would  be  in  the 
cabinet,  to  be  had  for  the  taking."  With  those  words  he 
called  to  the  groom  to  open  the  gate,  and  galloped  off. 

This  seemed  certainly  to  be  the  only  rational  explanation. 
But  how  had  the  thief  contrived  to  make  his  escape  from 
the  house?  I  had  found  the  front  door  locked  and  bolted, 
as  I  had  left  it  at  night,  when  I  went  to  open  it,  after  getting 
up.  As  for  the  other  doors  and  windows,  there  they  were 
still,  all  safe  and  fast,  to  speak  for  themselves.  The  dogs, 
too?  Suppose  the  thief  had  got  away  by  dropping  from  one 
of  the  upper  windows,  how  had  he  escaped  the  dogs?  Had 
he  come  provided  for  them  with  drugged  meat?  As  the 
doubt  crossed  my  mind,  the  dogs  themselves  came  galloping 
at  me  round  a  corner,  rolling  each  other  over  on  the  wet 
grass,  in  such  lively  health  ind  spirits  that  it  was  with  no 
small  difficulty  I  brought  them  to  reason,  and  chained  them 
up  again.  The  more  I  turned  it  over  in  my  mind,  the  less 
satisfactory  Mr.  Franklin's  explanation  appeared  to  be. 

We  had  our  breakfast — whatever  happens  in  a  house,  rob- 
bery or  murder,  it  doesn't  matter,  you  must  have  your  break- 
fast. When  we  had  done,  my  lady  sent  for  me ;  and  I  found 
myself  compelled  to  tell  her  all  that  I  had  hitherto  concealed, 
relating  to  the  Indians  and  their  plot.  Being  a  woman  of 
high  courage,  she  soon  got  over  the  first  startling  effect  of 
what  I  had  to  communicate.  Her  mind  seemed  to  be  far 
more  perturbed  about  her  daughter  than  about  the  heathen 
rogues  and  their  conspiracy.  "You  know  how  odd  Rachel 
is,  and  how  differently  she  behaves  sometimes  from  other 
girls,"  my  lady  said  to  me.  "But  I  have  never,  in  all  my 
experience,  seen  her  so  strange  and  so  reserved  as  she  is  now. 
The  loss  of  her  jewel  seems  almost  to  have  turned  her  brain. 
Who  would  have  thought  that  horrible  Diamond  could  have 
laid  such  a  hold  on  her  in  so  short  a  time?" 

It  was  certainly  strange.  Taking  toys  and  trinkets  in 
general,  Miss  Rachel  was  nothing  like  so  mad  after  them  as 

93 


THE  MOONSTONE 

most  young  girls.  Yet  there  she  was,  still  locked  up  incon- 
solably  in  her  bedroom.  It  is  but  fair  to  add  that  she  was 
not  the  only  one  of  us  in  the  house  who  was  thrown  out  of 
the  regular  groove.  Mr.  Godfrey,  for  instance — though  pro- 
fessionally a  sort  of  consoler-general — seemed  to  be  at  a  loss 
where  to  look  for  his  own  resources.  Having  no  company  to 
amuse  him,  and  getting  no  chance  of  trying  what  his  ex- 
perience of  women  in  distress  could  do  toward  comforting 
Miss  Rachel,  he  wandered  hither  and  thither  about  the  house 
and  garden  in  an  aimless,  uneasy  way.  He  was  in  two  dif- 
ferent minds  about  what  it  became  him  to  do,  after  the 
misfortune  that  had  happened  to  us.  Ought  he  to  relieve  the 
family,  in  their  present  situation,  of  the  responsibility  of  him 
as  a  guest?  or  ought  he  to  stay  on  the  chance  that  even  his 
humble  services  might  be  of  some  use?  He  decided  ulti- 
mately that  the  last  course  was  perhaps  the  most  customary 
and  considerate  course  to  take,  in  such  a  very  peculiar  case 
of  family  distress  as  this  was.  Circumstances  try  the  metal 
a  man  is  really  made  of.  Mr.  Godfrey,  tried  by  circum- 
stances, showed  himself  of  weaker  metal  than  I  had  thought 
i*im  to  be.  As  for  the  women  servants — excepting  Rosanna 
y/Spearman,  who  kept  by  herself — they  took  to  whispering 
I  together  in  corners  and  staring  at  nothing  suspiciously,  as  is 
I  the  manner  of  that  weaker  half  of  the  human  family,  when 
Vany  thing  extraordinary  happens^TTf^aTTouse!  T*Tn5'Self  ac- 
Nvuowledged  to  having  been  fidgety  and  ill-tempered.  The 
cursed  Moonstone  had  turned  us  all  upside  down. 

A  little  before  eleven  Mr.  Franklin  came  back.  The  reso- 
lute side  of  him  had,  to  all  appearance,  given  way,  in  the 
interval  since  his  departure,  under  the  stress  that  had  been 
laid  on  it.  He  had  left  us  at  a  gallop ;  he  came  back  to 
us  at  a  walk.  When  he  went  away  he  was  made  of  iron. 
When  he  returned  he  was  stuffed  with  cotton,  as  limp  as  limp 
could  be. 

"Well !"  says  my  lady,  "are  the  police  coming?" 

"Yes,"  says  Mr.  Franklin ;  "they  said  they  w^ould  follow 
me  in  a  fly.  Superintendent  Seegrave,  of  your  local  police 
force,  and  two  of  his  men.  A  mere  form !  The  case  is  hope- 
less." 

"What!  have  the  Indians  escaped,  sir?"  I  asked. 

94 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"The  poor  ill-used  Indians  have  been  most  unjustly  put  in 
prison,"  says  Mr.  Franklin.  "They  are  as  innocent  as  the 
babe  unborn.  My  idea  that  one  of  them  was  hidden  in  the 
house  has  ended,  like  all  the  rest  of  my  ideas,  in  smoke.  It's 
been  proved,"  says  Mr.  Franklin,  dwelling  with  great  relish 
on  his  own  incapacity,  "to  be  simply  impossible." 

After  astonishing  us  by  announcing  this  totally  new  turn 
in  the  matter  of  the  Moonstone,  our  young  gentleman,  at  his 
aunt's  request,  took  a  seat,  and  explained  himself. 

It  appeared  that  the  resolute  side  of  him  had  held  out  as 
far  as  Frizinghall.  He  had  put  the  whole  case  plainly  before 
the  magistrate,  and  the  magistrate  had  at  once  sent  for  the 
police.  The  first  inquiries  instituted  about  the  Indians  showed 
that  they  had  not  so  much  as  attempted  to  leave  the  town. 
Further  questions  addressed  to  the  police  proved  that  all  three 
had  been  seen  returning  to  Frizinghall  with  their  boy,  on 
the  previous  night  betvv'een  ten  and  eleven — which,  regard 
being  had  to  hours  and  distances,  also  proved  that  they  had 
walked  straight  back  after  performing  on  our  terrace.  Later 
still,  at  midnight,  the  police  having  occasion  to  search  the 
common  lodging-house  where  they  lived,  had  seen  them  all 
three  again,  and  their  little  boy  with  them  as  usual.  Soon 
after  midnight  I  myself  had  safely  shut  up  the  house.  Plainer 
evidence  than  this,  in  favor  of  the  Indians,  there  could  not 
well  be.  The  magistrate  said  there  was  not  even  a  case  of 
suspicion  against  them,  so  far.  But,  as  it  was  just  possible, 
when  the  police  came  to  investigate  the  matter,  that  discov- 
eries afifecting  the  jugglers  might  be  made,  he  would  con- 
trive, by  committing  them  as  rogues  and  vagabonds,  to  keep 
them  at  our  disposal,  under  lock  and  key,  for  a  week.  They 
had  ignorantly  done  something,  I  forgot  what,  in  the  town 
which  barely  brought  them  within  the  operation  of  the  law. 
Every  human  institution,  Justice  included,  will  stretch  a  little, 
if  you  only  pull  it  the  right  way.  The  worthy  magistrate 
was  an  old  friend  of  my  lady's — and  the  Indian  lot  were 
"committed"  for  a  week,  as  soon  as  the  court  opened  that 
morning. 

Such  was  Mr.  Franklin's  narrative  of  events  at  Frizing- 
hall. The  Indian  clue  to  the  mystery  of  the  lost  jewel  was 
now,  to  all  appearance,  a  clue  that  had  broken  in  our  hands. 

95 


THE  MOONSTONE 

If  the  jugglers  were  innocent,  who,  in  the  name  of  wonder, 
had  taken  the  Moonstone  out  of  Miss  Rachel's  drawer? 

Ten  minutes  later,  to  our  infinite  relief,  Superintendent 
Seegrave  arrived  at  the  house.  He  reported  passing  Mr. 
Franklin  on  the  terrace,  sitting  in  the  sun,  I  suppose  with  the 
Italian  side  of  him  uppermost ;  and  warning  the  police,  as 
they  went  by,  that  the  investigation  was  hopeless,  before  the 
investigation  had  begun. 

For  a  family  in  our  situation,  the  Superintendent  of  the 
Frizinghall  police  was  the  most  comforting  officer  you  could 
wish  to  see.  Mr.  Seegrave  was  tall  and  portly  and  military 
in  his  manners.  He  had  a  fine  commanding  voice  and  a 
mighty  resolute  eye  and  a  grand  frock-coat  which  buttoned 
beautifully  up  to  his  leather  stock.  "Fm  the  man  you  want!" 
was  written  all  over  his  face ;  and  he  ordered  his  two  inferior 
policemen  about  with  a  severity  which  convinced  us  all  that 
there  was  no  trifling  with  him. 

He  began  by  going  round  the  premises,  outside  and  in ; 
the  result  of  that  investigation  proving  to  him  that  no  thieves 
had  broken  in  upon  us  from  outside,  and  that  the  robbery, 
consequently,  must  have  been  committed  by  some  person  in 
the  house.  I  leave  you  to  imagine  the  state  the  servants  were 
in  when  this  official  announcement  first  reached  their  ears. 
The  Superintendent  decided  to  begin  by  examining  the  bou- 
doir; and,  that  done,  to  examine  the  servants  next.  At  the 
same  time  he  posted  one  of  his  men  on  the  staircase  which 
led  to  the  servants'  bedrooms,  with  instructions  to  let  nobody 
in  the  house  pass  him  till  further  orders. 

At  this  latter  proceeding  the  weaker  half  of  the  human 
family  went  distracted  on  the  spot.  They  bounced  out  of 
their  corners ;  whisked  up  stairs  in  a  body  to  Miss  Rachel's 
room,  Rosanna  Spearman  being  carried  away  among  them 
this  time ;  burst  in  on  Superintendent  Seegrave ;  and  all  look- 
ing equally  guilty,  summoned  him  to  say  which  of  them  he 
svispected,  at  once, 

Mr.  Superintendent  proved  equal  to  the  occasion — he 
looked  at  them  with  his  resolute  eye  and  he  cowed  them  with 
his  military  voice.  "Now,  then,  you  women,  go  down  stairs 
again,  every  one  of  you.  I  won't  have  you  here.  Look !" 
says  Mr.  Superintendent,  suddenly  pointing  to  a  little  smear 

96 


THE  MOONSTONE 

of  the  decorative  painting  on  Miss  Rachel's  door — at  the 
outer  edge,  just  under  the  lock.  "Look  what  mischief  the 
petticoats  of  some  of  you  have  done  already.  Clear  out !  clear 
out !"  Rosanna  Spearman,  who  was  nearest  to  him,  and 
nearest  to  the  little  smear  on  the  door,  set  the  example  of 
obedience,  and  slipped  off  instantly  to  her  work.  The  rest 
followed  her  out.  The  Superintendent  finished  his  examina- 
tion of  the  room ;  and,  making  nothing  of  it,  asked  me  who 
had  first  discovered  the  robbery.  My  daughter  had  first  dis- 
covered it.     My  daughter  was  sent  for. 

Mr.  Superintendent  proved  to  be  a  little  too  sharp  with 
Penelope  at  starting.  "Now,  young  woman,  attend  to  me — 
and  mind  you  speak  the  truth."  Penelope  fired  up  instantly, 
"Fve  never  been  taught  to  tell  lies,  Mr.  Policeman ! — and  if 
father  can  stand  there  and  hear  me  accused  of  falsehood  and 
thieving,  and  my  own  bedroom  shut  against  me,  and  my 
character  taken  away,  which  is  all  a  poor  girl  has  left,  he's 
not  the  good  father  I  take  him  for !"  A  timely  word  from 
me  put  Justice  and  Penelope  on  a  pleasanter  footing  together. 
The  questions  and  answers  went  swimmingly,  and  ended  in 
nothing  worth  mentioning.  My  daughter  had  seen  Miss 
Rachel  put  the  Diamond  in  the  drawer  of  the  cabinet,  the  last 
thing  at  night.  She  had  gone  in  with  Miss  Rachel's  cup  of 
tea,  at  eight  the  next  morning,  and  had  found  the  drawer 
open  and  empty.  Upon  that  she  had  alarmed  the  house — 
and  there  was  an  end  of  Penelope's  evidence. 

Mr.  Superintendent  next  asked  to  see  Miss  Rachel  herself. 
Penelope  mentioned  his  request  through  the  door.  The 
answer  reached  us  by  the  same  road,  "I  have  nothing  to  tell 
the  policemen — I  can't  see  any  body."  Our  experienced  offi- 
cer looked  equally  surprised  and  offended  when  he  heard 
that  reply.  I  told  him  my  young  lady  was  ill,  and  begged  him 
to  wait  a  little  and  see  her  later.  We  thereupon  went  down 
stairs  again ;  and  were  met  by  Mr.  Godfrey  and  Mr.  Franklin 
crossing  the  hall. 

The  two  gentlemen,  being  inmates  of  the  house,  were  sum- 
moned to  say  if  they  could  throw  any  light  on  the  matter. 
Neither  of  them  knew  any  thing  about  it.  Had  they  heard 
any  suspicious  noises  during  the  previous  night?  They  had 
heard  nothing  but  the  pattering  of  the  rain.  Had  I,  lying 
7  97 


THE  MOONSTONE 

awake  longer  than  either  of  them,  heard  nothing  either? 
Nothing !  Released  from  examination,  Mr.  Franklin,  still 
sticking  to  the  helpless  view  of  our  difficulty,  whispered  to 
me :  "That  man  will  be  of  no  earthly  use  to  us.  Superin- 
tendent Seegrave  is  an  ass."  Released  in  his  turn,  Mr.  God- 
frey whispered  to  me,  "Evidently  a  most  competent  person. 
Betteredge,  I  have  the  greatest  faith  in  him !"  Many  men, 
many  opinions,  as  one  of  the  ancients  said,  before  my  time, 

Mr,  Superintendent's  next  proceeding  took  him  back  to 
the  "boudoir"  again,  with  my  daughter  and  me  at  his  heels. 
His  object  was  to  discover  whether  any  of  the  furniture  had 
been  moved  during  the  night  out  of  its  customary  place — 
his  previous  investigation  in  the  room  having,  apparently, 
not  gone  quite  far  enough  to  satisfy  his  mind  on  this  point. 

While  we  were  still  poking  about  among  the  chairs  and 
tables  the  door  of  the  bedroom  was  suddenly  opened.  After 
having  denied  herself  to  every  body,  Miss  Rachel,  to  our 
astonishment,  walked  into  the  midst  of  us  of  her  own  accord. 
She  took  up  her  garden  hat  from  a  chair  and  then  went 
straight  to  Penelope  with  this  question : 

"Mr.  Franklin  Blake  sent  you  with  a  message  to  me  this 
morning?" 

"Yes,  miss." 

"He  wished  to  speak  to  me,  didn't  he?" 

"Yes,  miss." 

"Where   is  he  now?" 

Hearing  voices  on  the  terrace  below,  I  looked  out  of  win- 
dow, and  saw  the  two  gentlemen  walking  up  and  down 
together.  Answering  for  my  daughter,  I  said,  "Mr.  Franklin 
is  on  the  terrace,  miss." 

Without  another  word,  without  heeding  Mr.  Superinten- 
dent, who  tried  to  speak  to  her,  pale  as  death,  and  wrapped 
up  strangely  in  her  own  thoughts,  she  left  the  room,  and  went 
down  to  her  cousins  on  the  terrace. 

It  showed  a  want  of  due  respect,  it  showed  a  breach  of 
good  manners,  on  my  part ;  but,  for  the  life  of  me,  I  couldn't 
help  looking  out  of  window  when  Miss  Rachel  met  the  gentle- 
men outside.  She  went  up  to  Mr.  Franklin  without  appear- 
ing to  notice  Mr.  Godfrey,  who  thereupon  drew  back  and 
left  them  by  themselves.     What  she  said  to  Mr.  Franklin 

98 


THE  MOONSTONE 

appeared  to  be  spoken  vehemently.  It  lasted  but  for  a  short 
time;  and,  judging  by  what  I  saw  of  his  face  from  the  win- 
dow, seemed  to  astonish  him  beyond  all  power  of  expression. 
While  they  were  still  together  my  lady  appeared  on  the  ter- 
race. Miss  Rachel  saw  her — said  a  few  last  words  to  Mr, 
Franklin — and  suddenly  went  back  into  the  house  again, 
before  her  mother  came  up  with  her.  My  lady,  surprised 
herself,  and  noticing  Mr.  Franklin's  surprise,  spoke  to  him. 
Mr.  Godfrey  joined  them,  and  spoke  also.  Mr.  Franklin 
walked  away  a  little,  between  the  two,  telling  them  what  had 
happened,  I  suppose ;  for  they  both  stopped  short,  after  taking 
a  few  steps,  like  persons  struck  with  amazement.  I  had  just 
seen  as  much  as  this  when  the  door  of  the  sitting-room  was 
opened  violently.  Miss  Rachel  walked  swiftly  through  to 
her  bedroom,  wild  and  angry,  with  fierce  eyes  and  flaming 
cheeks.  Mr.  Superintendent  once  more  attempted  to  ques- 
tion her.  She  turned  round  on  him  at  her  bedroom  door, 
"I  have  not  sent  for  you !"  she  cried  out,  vehemently,  "I  don't 
want  you.  My  Diamond  is  lost.  Neither  you  nor  any  body 
will  ever  find  it!"  With  those  words  she  went  in  and 
locked  the  door  in  our  faces.  Penelope,  standing  near- 
est to  it,  heard  her  burst  out  crying  the  moment  she  was 
alone  again. 

In  a  rage  one  moment,  in  tears  the  next !  What  did  it 
mean? 

I  told  the  Superintendent  it  meant  that  Miss  Rachel's 
temper  was  upset  by  the  loss  of  her  jewel.  Being  anxious 
for  the  honor  of  the  family,  it  distressed  me  to  see  my  young 
lady  forget  herself — even  with  a  police  ofiicer — and  I  made 
the  best  excuse  I  could,  accordingly.  In  my  own  private 
mind  I  was  more  puzzled  by  Miss  Rachel's  extraordinary 
language  and  conduct  than  words  can  tell.  Taking  what 
she  had  said  at  her  bedroom  door  as  a  guide  to  guess  by,  I 
could  only  conclude  that  she  was  mortally  offended  by  our 
sending  for  the  police  and  that  Mr.  Franklin's  astonishment 
on  the  terrace  was  caused  by  her  having  expressed  herself 
to  him,  as  the  person  chiefly  instrumental  in  fetching  the 
police,  to  that  effect.  If  this  guess  was  right,  why — having 
lost  her  Diamond — should  she  object  to  the  presence  in  the 
house  of  the  very  people  whose  business  it  was  to  recover 

99 


THE  MOONSTONE 

it  for  her?  And  how,  in  Heaven's  name,  could  she  know 
that  the  Moonstone  would  never  be  found  again  ? 

As  things  stood  at  present  no  answer  to  those  questions 
was  to  be  hoped  for  from  any  body  in  the  house.  Mr.  Frank- 
lin appeared  to  think  it  a  point  of  honor  to  forbear  repeating 
to  a  servant — even  to  so  old  a  servant  as  I  was — what  Miss 
Rachel  had  said  to  him  on  the  terrace.  Mr.  Godfrey,  who, 
as  a  gentleman  and  a  relative,  had  been  probably  admitted 
into  Mr.  Franklin's  confidence,  respected  that  confidence  as 
he  was  bound  to  do.  My  lady,  who  was  also  in  the  secret, 
no  doubt,  and  who  alone  had  access  to  Miss  Rachel,  owned 
openly  that  she  could  make  nothing  of  her.  "You  madden 
me  when  you  talk  of  the  Diamond !"  All  her  mother's  influ- 
ence failed  to  extract  from  her  a  word  more  than  that. 

Here  we  were,  then,  at  a  dead-lock  about  Miss  Rachel — 
and  at  a  dead-lock  about  the  Moonstone.  In  the  first  case, 
my  lady  was  powerless  to  help  us.  In  the  second,  as  you 
shall  presently  judge,  Mr.  Seegrave  was  fast  approaching  the 
condition  of  a  superintendent  at  his  wit's  end. 

Having  ferreted  about  all  over  the  "boudoir,"  without 
making  any  discoveries  among  the  furniture,  our  experienced 
officer  applied  to  me  to  know  whether  the  servants  in  general 
were  or  were  not  acquainted  with  the  place  in  which  the  Dia- 
mond had  been  put  for  the  night. 

"I  knew  where  it  was  put,  sir,"  I  said,  "to  begin  with, 
Samuel,  the  footman,  knew  also — for  he  was  present  in  the 
hall  when  they  were  talking  about  where  the  Diamond  was 
to  be  kept  that  night.  My  daughter  knew,  as  she  has  already 
told  you.  She  or  Samuel  may  have  mentioned  the  thing  to 
the  other  servants — or  the  other  servants  may  have  heard  the 
talk  for  themselves,  through  the  side-door  of  the  hall,  which 
might  have  been  open  to  the  back  staircase.  For  all  I  can 
tell,  every  body  in  the  house  may  have  known  where  the  jewel 
was  last  night." 

My  answer  presenting  rather  a  wide  field  for  Mr.  Superin- 
tendent's suspicions  to  range  over,  he  tried  to  narrow  it  by 
asking  about  the  servants'  characters  next. 

I  thought  directly  of  Rosanna  Spearman.  But  it  was 
neither  my  place  nor  my  wish  to  direct  suspicion  against  a 
poor  girl  whose  honesty  had  been  above  all  doubt  as  long  as 


THE  MOONSTONE 

I  had  known  her.  The  matron  at  the  Reformatory  had  re- 
ported her  to  my  lady  as  a  sincerely  penitent  and  thoroughly 
trustworthy  girl.  It  was  the  Superintendent's  business  to 
discover  reason  for  suspecting  her  first — and  then,  and  not 
till  then,  it  would  be  my  duty  to  tell  him  how  she  came  into 
my  lady's  service.  "All  our  people  have  excellent  characters," 
I  said.  "And  all  have  deserved  the  trust  their  mistress  has 
placed  in  them."  After  that  there  was  but  one  thing  left  for 
Mr.  Seegrave  to  do — namely,  to  set  to  work  and  tackle  the 
servants'  characters  himself. 

One  after  another  they  were  examined.  One  after  another 
they  proved  to  have  nothing  to  say — and  said  it,  so  far  as 
the  women  were  concerned,  at  great  length,  and  with  a  very 
angry  sense  of  the  embargo  laid  on  their  bedrooms.  The 
rest  of  them  being  sent  back  to  their  places  down  stairs, 
Penelope  was  then  summoned  and  examined  separately  a 
second  time. 

My  daughter's  little  outbreak  of  temper  in  the  "boudoir," 
and  her  readiness  to  think  herself  suspected,  appeared  to 
have  produced  an  unfavorable  impression  on  Superintendent 
Seegrave.  It  seemed  also  to  dwell  a  little  on  his  mind  that 
she  had  been  the  last  person  who  saw  the  Diamond  at  night. 
When  the  second  questioning  was  over  my  girl  came  back 
to  me  in  a  frenzy.  There  was  no  doubt  of  it  any  longer — 
the  police  officer  had  almost  as  good  as  told  her  she  was  the 
thief !  I  could  scarcely  believe  him,  taking  Mr.  Franklin's 
view,  to  be  quite  such  an  ass  as  that.  But,  though  he  said 
nothing,  the  eye  with  which  he  looked  at  my  daughter  was 
not  a  pleasant  eye  to  see.  I  laughed  it  off  with  poor  Penelope, 
as  something  too  ridiculous  to  be  treated  seriously — which 
it  certainly  was.  Secretly,  I  am  afraid  I  was  foolish  enough 
to  be  angry  too.  It  was  a  little  trying — it  was  indeed.  My 
girl  sat  down  in  a  corner  with  her  apron  over  her  head,  quite 
broken-hearted.  Foolish  of  her,  you  will  say :  she  might  have 
waited  till  he  openly  accused  her.  Well,  being  a  man  of  just 
and  equal  temper,  I  admit  that.  Still  Mr.  Superintendent 
might  have  remembered — never  mind  what  he  might  have 
remembered.     The  devil  take  him ! 

The  next  and  last  step  in  the  investigation  brought  mat- 
ters, as  they  say,  to  a  crisis.     The  officer  had  an  interview, 


THE  MOONSTONE 

at  which  I  was  present,  with  my  lady.  After  informing  her 
that  the  Diamond  must  have  been  taken  by  somebody  in  the 
house,  he  requested  permission  for  himself  and  his  men 
to  search  the  servants'  rooms  and  boxes  on  the  spot.  My 
good  mistress,  like  the  generous,  high-bred  woman  she  was, 
refused  to  let  us  be  treated  like  thieves.  "I  will  never 
consent  to  make  such  a  return  as  that,"  she  said,  "for 
all  I  owe  to  the  faithful  servants  who  are  employed  in  my 
house." 

Mr.  Superintendent  made  his  bow,  with  a  look  in  my  direc- 
tion, which  said  plainly,  "Why  employ  me  if  you  are  to  tie 
my  hands  in  this  way?"  As  head  of  the  servants,  I  felt 
directly  that  we  were  bound,  in  justice  to  all  parties,  not  to 
profit  by  our  mistress's  generosity.  "We  gratefully  thank 
your  ladyship,"  I  said ;  "but  we  ask  permission  to  do  what 
is  right  in  this  matter  by  giving  up  our  keys.  When  Gabriel 
Betteredge  sets  the  example,"  says  I,  stopping  Superin- 
tendent Seegrave  at  the  door,  "the  rest  of  the  servants  will 
follow,  I  promise  you.  There  are  my  keys,  to  begin  with !" 
My  lady  took  me  by  the  hand,  and  thanked  me  with  the 
tears  in  her  eyes.  Lord !  what  would  I  not  have  given,  at 
that  moment,  for  the  privilege  of  knocking  Superintendent 
Seegrave  down ! 

As  I  had  promised  for  them,  the  other  servants  followed 
my  lead,  sorely  against  the  grain,  of  course,  but  all  taking 
the  view  that  I  took.  The  women  were  a  sight  to  see,  while 
the  police  officers  were  rummaging  among  their  things.  The 
cook  looked  as  if  she  could  grill  Mr.  Superintendent  alive  on 
a  furnace,  and  the  other  women  looked  as  if  they  could  eat 
him  when  he  was  done. 

The  search  over,  and  no  Diamond  or  sign  of  a  Diamond 
being  found,  of  course,  anywhere.  Superintendent  Seegrave 
retired  to  my  little  room  to  consider  with  himself  what  he 
was  to  do  next.  He  and  his  men  had  now  been  hours  in  the 
house,  and  had  not  advanced  us  one  inch  toward  a  discovery 
of  how  the  Moonstone  had  been  taken,  or  of  whom  we  were 
to  suspect  as  the  thief. 

While  the  police  officer  was  still  pondering  in  solitude,  I 
was  sent  for  to  see  Mr.  Franklin  in  the  library.  To  my  un- 
utterable astonishment,  just  as  my  hand  was  on  the  door  it 


THE  MOONSTONE 

was  suddenly  opened  from  the  inside,  and  out  walked  Ro- 
sanna  Spearman ! 

After  the  library  had  been  swept  and  cleaned  in  the  morn- 
ing, neither  first  nor  second  house-maid  had  any  business  in 
that  room  at  any  later  period  of  the  day.  I  stopped  Rosanna 
Spearman,  and  charged  her  with  a  breach  of  domestic  dis- 
cipline on  the  spot. 

"What  might  you  want  in  the  library  at  this  time  of  day?" 
I  inquired. 

"Mr.  Franklin  Blake  dropped  one  of  his  rings  up  stairs," 
says  Rosanna ;  "and  I  have  been  into  the  library  to  give  it 
to  him."  The  girl's  face  was  all  in  a  flush  as  she  made  me 
that  answer ;  and  she  walked  away  with  a  toss  of  her  head 
and  a  look  of  self-importance  which  I  was  quite  at  a  loss  to 
account  for.  The  proceedings  in  the  house  had  doubtless 
upset  all  the  women-servants  more  or  less;  but  none  of  them 
had  gone  clean  out  of  their  natural  characters,  as  Rosanna, 
to  all  appearance,  had  now  gone  out  of  hers. 

I  found  Mr.  Franklin  writing  at  the  library-table.  He 
asked  for  a  conveyance  to  the  railway  station  the  moment  I 
entered  the  room.  The  first  sound  of  his  voice  informed  me 
that  we  now  had  the  resolute  side  of  him  uppermost  once 
more.  The  man  made  of  cotton  had  disappeared ;  and  the 
man  made  of  iron  sat  before  me  again. 

"Going  to  London,  sir?"  I  asked. 

"Going  to  telegraph  to  London,"  says  Mr.  Franklin.  "I 
have  convinced  my  aunt  that  we  must  have  a  cleverer  head 
than  Superintendent  Seegrave's  to  help  us ;  and  I  have  got 
her  permission  to  dispatch  a  telegram  to  my  father.  He 
knows  the  Chief  Commissioner  of  Police,  and  the  Commis- 
sioner can  lay  his  hand  on  the  right  man  to  solve  the  mys- 
tery of  the  Diamond.  Talking  of  mysteries,  by-the-bye,"  says 
Mr.  Franklin,  dropping  his  voice,  "I  have  another  word  to 
say  to  you  before  you  go  to  the  stables.  Don't  breathe  a 
word  of  it  to  any  body  as  yet ;  but  either  Rosanna  Spear- 
man's head  is  not  quite  right,  or  I  am  afraid  she  knows  more 
about  the  Moonstone  than  she  ought  to  know." 

I  can  hardly  tell  whether  I  was  more  startled  or  distressed 
at  hearing  him  say  that.  If  I  had  been  younger,  I  might 
have  confessed  as  much  to  Mr.  Franklin.     But  when  you 

103 


THE  MOONSTONE 

are  old,  you  acquire  one  excellent  habit.     In  cases  where 
you  don't  see  your  way  clearly,  you  hold  your  tongue. 

"She  came  in  here  with  a  ring  I  dropped  in  my  bedroom," 
Mr.  Franklin  went  on.  "When  I  had  thanked  her,  of  course 
I  expected  her  to  go.  Instead  of  that  she  stood  opposite  to 
me  at  the  table,  looking  at  me  in  the  oddest  manner — half 
frightened,  and  half  familiar — I  couldn't  make  it  out.  'This 
is  a  strange  thing  about  the  Diamond,  sir,'  she  said,  in  a 
curiously  sudden,  headlong  way.  I  said,  Yes  it  was,  and 
wondered  what  was  coming  next.  Upon  my  honor.  Better- 
edge,  I  think  she  must  be  wrong  in  the  head !  She  said,  'They 
will  never  find  the  Diamond,  sir,  will  they  ?  No !  nor  the 
person  who  took  it — I'll  answer  for  that.'  She  actually  nod- 
ded and  smiled  at  me !  Before  I  could  ask  her  what  she 
meant  we  heard  your  step  outside.  I  suppose  she  was  afraid 
of  your  catching  her  here.  At  any  rate,  she  changed  color 
and  left  the  room.     What  on  earth  does  it  mean?" 

I  could  not  bring  myself  to  tell  him  the  girl's  story  even 
then.  It  would  have  been  almost  as  good  as  telling  him  that 
she  was  the  thief.  Besides,  even  if  I  had  made  a  clean  breast 
of  it,  and  even  supposing  she  was  the  thief,  the  reason  why 
she  should  let  out  her  secret  to  Mr.  Franklin,  of  all  the 
people  in  the  world,  would  have  been  still  as  far  to  seek  as 
ever. 

"I  can't  bear  the  idea  of  getting  the  poor  girl  into  a 
scrape,  merely  because  she  has  a  flighty  way  with  her,  and 
talks  very  strangely,"  Mr.  Fianklin  went  on.  "And  yet,  if 
she  had  said  to  the  Superintendent  what  she  said  to  me,  fool 
as  he  is,  I'm  afraid — "  He  stopped  there,  and  left  the  rest 
unspoken. 

"The  best  way,  sir,"  I  said,  "will  be  for  me  to  say  two 
words  privately  to  my  mistress  about  it  at  the  first  oppor- 
tunity. My  lady  has  a  very  friendly  interest  in  Rosanna ; 
and  the  girl  may  only  have  been  forward  and  foolish,  after 
all.  When  there's  a  mess  of  any  kind  in  a  house,  sir,  the 
women-servants  like  to  look  at  the  gloomy  side — it  gives  the 
poor  wretches  a  kind  of  importance  in  their  own  eyes.  If 
there's  any  body  ill,  trust  the  women  for  prophesying  that 
the  person  will  die.  If  it's  a  jewel  lost,  trust  them  for 
prophesying  that  it  will  never  be  found  again," 

104 


THE  MOONSTONE 

This  view,  which  I  am  bound  to  say  I  thought  a  probable 
view  myself  on  reflection,  seemed  to  relieve  Mr.  Franklin 
mightily ;  he  folded  up  his  telegram  and  dismissed  the  sub- 
ject. On  my  way  to  the  stables  to  order  the  pony-chaise  I 
looked  in  at  the  servants'  hall  where  they  were  at  dinner. 
Rosanna  Spearman  was  not  among  them.  On  inquiry  I  found 
that  she  had  been  suddenly  taken  ill,  and  had  gone  up  stairs 
to  her  own  room  to  lie  down. 

"Curious !  She  looked  well  enough  when  I  saw  her  last," 
I  remarked. 

Penelope  followed  me  out.  "Don't  talk  in  that  way  before 
the  rest  of  them,  father,"  she  said.  "You  only  make  them 
harder  on  Rosanna  than  ever.  The  poor  thing  is  breaking 
her  heart  about  Mr.  Franklin  Blake." 

Here  was  another  view  of  the  girl's  conduct.  If  it  was 
possible  for  Penelope  to  be  right,  the  explanation  of  Ro- 
sanna's  strange  language  and  behavior  might  have  been  all 
in  this — that  she  didn't  care  what  she  said  so  long  as  she 
could  surprise  Mr.  Franklin  into  speaking  to  her.  Granting 
that  to  be  the  right  reading  of  the  riddle,  it  accounted,  per- 
haps, for  her  flighty  self-conceited  manner  when  she  passed 
me  in  the  hall.  Though  he  had  only  said  three  words  still 
she  had  carried  her  point,  and  Mr.  Franklin  had  spoken  to 
her. 

I  saw  the  pony  harnessed  myself.  In  the  infernal  net- 
work of  mysteries  and  uncertainties  that  now  surrounded  us, 
I  declare  it  was  a  relief  to  observe  how  well  the  buckles  and 
straps  understood  each  other !  When  you  had  seen  the  pony 
backed  into  the  shafts  of  the  chaise  you  had  seen  something 
there  was  no  doubt  about.  And  that,  let  me  tell  you,  was 
becoming  a  treat  of  the  rarest  kind  in  our  household. 

Going  round  with  the  chaise  to  the  front  door,  I  found 
not  only  Mr.  Franklin,  but  Mr.  Godfrey  and  Superintendent 
Seegrave  also,  waiting  for  me  on  the  steps. 

Mr.  Superintendent's  reflections,  after  failing  to  find  the 
Diamond  in  the  servants'  rooms  or  boxes,  had  led  him,  it 
appeared,  to  an  entirely  new  conclusion.  Still  sticking  to 
his  first  text,  namely,  that  somebody  in  the  house  had  stolen 
the  jewel,  our  experienced  officer  was  now  of  opinion  that 
the  thief,  he  was  wise  enough  not  to  name  poor  Penelope, 

i°5 


THE  MOONSTONE 

whatever  he  might  privately  think  of  her,  had  been  acting 
in  concert  with  the  Indians;  and  he  accordingly  proposed 
shifting  his  inquiries  to  the  jugglers  in  the  prison  at  Frizing- 
hall.  Hearing  of  this  new  move,  Mr.  Franklin  had  volun- 
teered to  take  the  Superintendent  back  to  the  town,  from 
which  he  could  telegraph  to  London  as  easily  as  from  our 
station.  Mr.  Godfrey,  still  devoutly  believing  in  Mr.  See- 
grave,  and  greatly  interested  in  witnessing  the  examination 
of  the  Indians,  had  begged  leave  to  accompany  the  officer  to 
Frizinghall.  One  of  the  two  inferior  policemen  was  to  be 
left  at  the  house  in  case  any  thing  happened.  The  other  was 
to  go  back  with  the  Superintendent  to  the  town.  So  the  four 
places  in  the  pony-chaise  were  just  filled. 

Before  he  took  the  reins  to  drive  off,  Mr.  Franklin  walked 
me  away  a  few  steps  out  of  hearing  of  the  others. 

"I  will  wait  to  telegraph  to  London,"  he  said,  "till  I  see 
what  comes  of  our  examination  of  the  Indians.  My  own 
conviction  is,  that  this  muddle-headed  local  police  officer  is 
as  much  in  the  dark  as  ever,  and  is  simply  trying  to  gain 
time.  The  idea  of  any  of  the  servants  being  in  league  with 
the  Indians  is  a  preposterous  absurdity,  in  my  opinion.  Keep 
about  the  house,  Betteredge,  till  I  come  back,  and  try  what 
you  can  make  of  Rosanna  Spearman.  I  don't  ask  you  to  do 
any  thing  degrading  to  your  own  self-respect,  or  any  thing 
cruel  toward  the  girl.  I  only  ask  you  to  exercise  your  obser- 
vation more  carefully  than  usual.  We  will  make  as  light  of 
it  as  we  can  before  my  aunt ;  but  this  is  a  more  important 
matter  than  you  may  suppose." 

"It's  a  matter  of  twenty  thousand  pounds,  sir,"  I  said, 
thinking  of  the  value  of  the  Diamond. 

"It's  a  matter  of  quieting  Rachel's  mind,"  answered  Mr. 
Franklin,  gravely.     "I  am  very  uneasy  about  her." 

He  left  me  suddenly,  as  if  he  desired  to  cut  short  any 
further  talk  between  us.  I  thought  I  understood  why.  Fur- 
ther talk  might  have  let  me  into  the  secret  of  what  Miss 
Rachel  had  said  to  him  on  the  terrace. 

So  they  drove  away  to  Frizinghall.  I  was  ready  enough, 
in  the  girl's  own  interest,  to  have  a  little  talk  with  Rosanna 
in  private.  But  the  needful  opportunity  failed  to  present 
itself.     She  only  came  down  stairs  again  at  tea-time.    When 

jo6 


THE  MOONSTONE 

she  did  appear  she  was  flighty  and  excited,  had  what  they 
call  an  hysterical  attack,  took  a  dose  of  sal  volatile  by  my 
lady's  order,  and  was  sent  back  to  her  bed. 

The  day  wore  on  to  its  end  drearily  and  miserably  enough, 
I  can  tell  you.  Miss  Rachel  still  kept  her  room,  declaring 
that  she  was  too  ill  to  come  down  to  dinner  that  day.  My 
lady  was  in  such  low  spirits  about  her  daughter  that  I  could 
not  bring  myself  to  make  her  additionally  anxious  by  report- 
ing what  Rosanna  Spearman  had  said  to  Mr.  Franklin. 
Penelope  persisted  in  believing  that  she  was  to  be  forthwith 
tried,  sentenced,  and  transported  for  theft.  The  other  women 
took  to  their  Bibles  and  hymn-books  and  looked  as  sour  as 
verjuice  over  their  reading — a  result  which  I  have  observed, 
in  my  sphere  of  life,  to  follow  generally  on  the  performance 
of  acts  of  piety  at  unaccustomed  periods  of  the  day.  As  for 
me,  I  hadn't  even  heart  enough  to  open  my  Robinson  Crusoe. 
I  went  out  into  the  yard,  and  being  hard  up  for  a  little  cheer- 
ful society,  set  my  chair  by  the  kennels  and  talked  to  the  dogs. 

Half  an  hour  before  dinner-time  the  two  gentlemen  came 
back  from  Frizinghall,  having  arranged  with  Superintendent 
Seegrave  that  he  was  to  return  to  us  the  next  day.  They 
had  called  on  Mr.  Murthwaite,  the  Indian  traveler,  at  his 
present  residence,  near  the  town.  At  Mr.  Franklin's  request 
he  had  kindly  given  them  the  benefit  of  his  knowledge  of 
the  language,  in  dealing  with  those  two,  out  of  the  three 
Indians,  who  knew  nothing  of  English.  The  examination, 
conducted  carefully,  and  at  great  length,  had  ended  in  noth- 
ing ;  not  the  shadow  of  a  reason  being  discovered  for  suspect- 
ing the  jugglers  of  having  tampered  with  any  of  our  servants. 
On  reaching  that  conclusion  Mr.  Franklin  had  sent  his  tele- 
graphic message  to  London,  and  there  the  matter  now  rested 
till  to-morrow  came. 

So  much  for  the  history  of  the  day  that  followed  the  birth- 
day. Not  a  glimmer  of  light  had  broken  in  on  us  so  far.  A 
day  or  two  after,  however,  the  darkness  lifted  a  little.  How, 
and  with  what  result,  you  shall  presently  see. 


107 


'  THE  MOONSTONE 


CHAPTER  XH. 

THE  Thursday  night  passed,  and  nothing  happened. 
With  the  Fjiday  morning  came  two  pieces  of  news. 

Item  the  first :  The  baker's  man  declared  he  had  met 
Rosanna  Spearman,  on  the  previous  afternoon,  with  a  thick 
veil  on,  walking  toward  Frizinghall  by  the  foot-path  way 
over  the  moor.  It  seemed  strange  that  any  body  should  be 
mistaken  about  Rosanna,  whose  shoulder  marked  her  out 
pretty  plainly,  poor  thing — but  mistaken  the  man  must  have 
been ;  for  Rosanna,  as  you  know,  had  been  all  the  Thursday 
afternoon  ill  up  stairs  in  her  room. 

Item  the  second  came  through  the  postman.  Worthy  Mr. 
Candy  had  said  one  more  of  his  many  unlucky  things,  when 
he  drove  off  in  the  rain  on  the  birthday  night,  and  told  me 
that  a  doctor's  skin  was  water-proof.  In  spite  of  his  skin 
the  wet  had  got  through  him.  He  had  caught  a  chill  that 
night  and  was  now  down  with  a  fever.  The  last  accounts, 
brought  by  the  postman,  represented  him  to  be  light-headed — 
talking  nonse^ise  as  glibly,  poor  man,  in  his  delirium  as  he 
often  talked  it  in  his  sober  sense.  We  were  all  sorry  for  the 
little  doctor;  but  Mr.  Franklin  appeared  to  regret  his  ill- 
ness chiefly  on  Miss  Rachel's  account.  From  what  he 
said  to  my  lady  while  I  was  in  the  room  at  breakfast- 
time,  he  appeared  to  think  that  Miss  Rachel — if  the  sus- 
pense about  the  Moonstone  was  not  soon  set  at  rest — 
might  stand  in  urgent  need  of  the  best  medical  advice  at  our 
disposal. 

Breakfast  had  not  been  over  long  when  a  telegram  from 
Mr.  Blake,  the  elder,  arrived  in  answer  to  his  son.  It  in- 
formed us  that  he  had  laid  hands,  by  help  of  his  friend  the 
Commissioner,  on  the  right  man  to  help  us.  The  name  of 
him  was  Sergeant  Cuff,  and  the  arrival  of  him  from  London 
might  be  expected  by  the  morning  train. 

At  reading  the  name  of  the  new  police  officer  Mr.  Franklin 
gave  a  start.  It  seems  that  he  had  heard  some  curious  anec- 
dotes about  Sergeant  Cuff  from  his  father's  lawyer  during 
his  stay  in  London.  "I  begin  to  hope  we  are  seeing  the  end 
of  our  anxieties  already,"  he  said.    "If  half  the  stories  I  have 

1 08 


THE  MOONSTONE 

heard  are  true,  when  it  comes  to  unraveling  a  mystery  there 
isn't  the  equal  in  England  of  Sergeant  Cuff!" 

We  all  got  excited  and  impatient  as  the  time  drew  near 
for  the  appearance  of  this  renowned  and  capable  character. 
Superintendent  Seegrave  returning  to  us  ,at  his  appointed 
time,  and  hearing  that  the  Sergeant  was  expected,  instantly 
shut  himself  up  in  a  room,  with  pen,  ink,  and  paper,  to  make 
notes  of  the  report  which  would  be  certainly  expected  from 
him.  I  should  have  liked  to  have  gone  to  the  station  myself 
to  fetch  the  Sergeant.  But  my  lady's  carriage  and  horses 
were  not  to  be  thought  of,  even  for  the  celebrated  Cuff;  and 
the  pony-chaise  was  required  later  for  Mr.  Godfrey.  He 
deeply  regretted  being  obliged  to  leave  his  aunt  at  such  an 
anxious  time ;  and  he  kindly  put  off  the  hour  of  his  departure 
till  as  late  as  the  last  train,  for  the  purpose  of  hearing  what 
tjie  clever  London  police  officer  thought  of  the  case.  But  on 
Friday  night  he  must  be  in  town,  having  a  Ladies'  Charity, 
in  difficulties,  waiting  to  consult  him  on  Saturday  morning. 

When  the  time  came  for  the  Sergeant's  arrival  I  went 
down  to  the  gate  to  look  out  for  him. 

A  fly  from  the  railway  drove  up  as  I  reached  the  lodge; 
and  out  got  a  grizzled,  elderly  man,  so  miserably  lean  that 
he  looked  as  if  he  had  not  got  an  ounce  of  flesh  on  his  bones 
in  any  part  of  him.  He  was  dressed  all  in  decent  black,  with 
a  white  cravat  round  his  neck.  His  face  was  as  sharp  as  a 
hatchet,  and  the  skin  of  it  was  as  yellow  and  dry  and  withered 
as  an  autumn  leaf.  His  eyes,  of  a  steely,  light  gray,  had  a 
very  disconcerting  trick,  when  they  encountered  your  eyes, 
of  looking  as  if  they  expected  something  more  from  you  than 
you  were  aware  of  yourself.  His  walk  was  soft ;  his  voice 
was  melancholy ;  his  long  lanky  fingers  were  hooked  like 
claws.  He  might  have  been  a  parson,  or  an  undertaker,  or 
any  thing  else  you  like,  except  what  he  really  was.  A  more 
complete  opposite  to  Superintendent  Seegrave  than  Sergeant 
Cuff,  and  a  less  comforting  officer  to  look  at  for  a  family  in 
distress,  I  defy  you  to  discover,  search  where  you  may. 

"Is  this  Ladv  Verinder's  ?"  he  asked. 

"Yes,  sir." 

"I  am  Sergeant  Cuff." 

"This  way,  sir,  if  you  please." 

109 


THE  MOONSTONE 

On  our  road  to  the  house  I  mentioned  my  name  and  posi- 
tion in  the  family,  to  satisfy  him  that  he  might  speak  to  me 
about  the  business  on  which  my  lady  was  to  employ  him. 
Not  a  word  did  he  say  about  the  business,  however,  for  all 
that.  He  admired  the  grounds,  and  remarked  that  he  felt 
the  sea-air  very  brisk  and  refreshing.  I  privately  wondered, 
on  my  side,  how  the  celebrated  Cuff  had  got  his  reputation. 
We  reached  the  house  in  the  temper  of  two  strange  dogs, 
coupled  up  together  for  the  first  time  in  their  lives  by  the 
same  chain. 

Asking  for  my  lady  and  hearing  that  she  was  in  one  of 
the  conservatories,  we  went  round  to  the  gardens  at  the  back 
and  sent  a  servant  to  seek  her.  While  we  were  waiting 
Sergeant  Cuff  looked  through  the  evergreen  arch  on  our  left, 
spied  out  our  rosery,  and  walked  straight  in,  with  the  first 
appearance  of  any  thing  like  interest  that  he  had  shown  yet. 
To  the  gardener's  astonishment,  and  to  my  disgust,  this  cele- 
brated policeman  proved  to  be  quite  a  mine  of  learning  on  the 
trumpery  subject  of  rose-gardens. 

"Ah,  you've  got  the  right  exposure  here  to  the  south  and 
sou'west,"  says  the  Sergeant,  with  a  wag  of  his  grizzled 
head  and  a  streak  of  pleasure  in  his  melancholy  voice.  "This 
is  the  shape  for  a  rosery — nothing  like  a  circle  set  in  a  square. 
Yes,  yes ;  with  walks  between  all  the  beds.  But  they  oughtn't 
to  be  gravel-walks  like  these.  Grass,  Mr.  Gardener — grass- 
walks  between  your  roses  ;  gravel's  too  hard  for  them.  That's 
a  sweet  pretty  bed  of  white  roses  and  blush  roses.  They 
always  mix  well  together,  don't  they?  Here's  the  white 
musk-rose,  Mr.  Betteredge — our  old  English  rose  holding  up 
his  head  along  with  the  best  and  the  newest  of  them.  Pretty 
dear !"  says  the  Sergeant,  fondling  the  musk-rose  with  his 
lanky  fingers,  and  speaking  to  it  as  if  he  was  speaking  to  a 
child. 

This  was  a  nice  sort  of  man  to  recover  Miss  Rachel's  Dia- 
mond, and  to  find  out  the  thief  who  stole  it ! 

"You  seem  to  be  fond  of  roses,  Sergeant?"  I  remarked. 

"I  haven't  much  time  to  be  fond  of  any  thing,"  says  Ser- 
geant Cuff.  "But,  when  I  have  a  moment's  fondness  to  be- 
stow, most  times,  Mr.  Betteredge,  the  roses  get  it.  I  began 
my  life  among  them  in  my  father's  nursery  garden,  and  I 

no 


THE  MOONSTONE 

shall  end  my  life  among  them  if  I  can.  Yes,  One  of  these 
days,  please  God,  I  shall  retire  from  catching  thieves,  and 
try  my  hand  at  growing  roses.  There  will  be  grass-walks, 
Mr.  Gardener,  between  my  beds,"  says  the  Sergeant,  on 
whose  mind  the  gravel-paths  of  a  rosery  seemed  to  dwell 
unpleasantly. 

"It  seems  an  odd  taste,  sir,"  I  ventured  to  say,  "for  a  man 
in  your  line  of  life." 

"If  you  will  look  about  you,  which  most  people  won't  do," 
says  Sergeant  Cuff,  "you  will  see  that  the  nature  of  a  man's 
tastes  is,  most  times,  as  opposite  as  possible  to  the  nature  of 
a  man's  business.  Show  me  any  two  things  more  opposite 
one  from  the  other  than  a  rose  and  a  thief,  and  I'll  correct 
my  tastes  accordingly — if  it  isn't  too  late  at  my  time  of  life. 
You  find  the  damask-rose  a  goodish  stock  for  most  of  the 
tender  sorts,  don't  you,  Mr.  Gardener?  Ah!  I  thought  so. 
Here's  a  lady  coming.    Is  it  Lady  Verinder?" 

He  had  seen  her  before  either  I  or  the  gardener  had  seen 
her — though  we  knew  which  way  to  look,  and  he  didn't.  I 
began  to  think  him  rather  a  quicker  man  than  he  appeared 
to  be  at  first  sight.- 

The  Sergeant's  appearance,  or  the  Sergeant's  errand — one 
or  both — seemed  to  cause  my  lady  some  little  embarrassment. 
She  was,  for  the  first  time  in  all  my  experience  of  her,  at  a 
loss  what  to  say  at  an  interview  with  a  stranger.  Sergeant 
Cuff  put  her  at  her  ease  directly.  He  asked  if  any  other 
person  had  been  employed  about  the  robbery  before  we  sent 
for  him ;  and  hearing  that  another  person  had  been  called 
in,  and  was  now  in  the  house,  begged  leave  to  speak  to  him 
before  any  thing  else  was  done. 

My  lady  led  the  way  back.  Before  he  followed  her,  the 
Sergeant  relieved  his  mind  on  the  subject  of  the  gravel- 
walks  by  a  parting  word  to  the  gardener.  "Get  her  ladyship 
to  try  grass,"  he  said,  with  a  sour  look  at  the  paths,  "No 
gravel !  no  gravel !" 

Why  Superintendent  Seegrave  should  have  appeared  to 
be  several  sizes  smaller  than  life,  on  being  presented  to  Ser- 
geant Cuff,  I  can't  undertake  to  explain.  I  can  only  state 
the  fact.  They  retired  together ;  and  remained  a  weary  long 
time  shut  up  from  all  mortal  intrusion.     When  they  came 


THE  MOONSTONE 

out  Mr.  Superintendent  was  excited  and  Mr.  Sergeant  was 
yawning. 

"The  Sergeant  wishes  to  see  Miss  Verinder's  sitting-room," 
says  Mr.  Seegrave,  addressing  me  with  great  pomp  and 
eagerness.  "The  Sergeant  may  have  some  questions  to  ask. 
Attend  the  Sergeant,  if  you  please !" 

While  I  was  being  ordered  about  in  this  way,  I  looked 
at  the  great  Cuff.  The  great  Cuff,  on  his  side,  looked  at 
Superintendent  Seegrave  in  that  quietly  expecting  way  which 
I  have  already  noticed.  I  can't  affirm  that  he  was  on  the 
watch  for  his  brother-officer's  speedy  appearance  in  the  char- 
acter of  an  Ass — I  can  only  say  that  I  strongly  suspected  it. 

I  led  the  way  up  stairs.  The  Sergeant  went  softly  all  over 
the  Indian  cabinet  and  all  round  the  "boudoir" ;  asking  ques- 
tions, occasionally  only  of  Mr.  Superintendent,  and  continu- 
ally of  me,  the  drift  of  which  I  believe  to  have  been  equally 
unintelligible  to  both  of  us.  In  due  time  his  course  brought 
him  to  the  door,  and  put  him  face  to  face  with  the  decorative 
painting  that  you  know  of.  He  laid  one  lean  inquiring  finger 
on  the  small  smear,  just  under  the  lock,  which  Superintendent 
Seegrave  had  already  noticed  when  he  reproved  the  women- 
servants  for  all  crowding  together  into  the  room. 

"That's  a  pity,"  says  Sergeant  Cuff.    "How  did  it  happen?" 

He  put  the  question  to  me.  I  answered  that  the  women- 
servants  had  crowded  into  the  room  on  the  previous  morn- 
ing and  that  some  of  their  petticoats  had  done  the  mischief. 
"Superintendent  Seegrave  ordered  them  out,  sir,"  I  added, 
"before  they  did  any  more  harm." 

"Right !"  says  Mr.  Superintendent,  in  his  military  way. 
"I  ordered  them  out.  The  petticoats  did  it.  Sergeant — the 
petticoats  did  it." 

"Did  you  notice  which  petticoat  did  it?"  asked  Sergeant 
Cuff,  still  addressing  himself,  not  to  his  brother-officer,  but 
to  me. 

"No,  sir." 

He  turned  to  Superintendent  Seegrave  upon  that,  and  said, 
"You  noticed,  I  suppose?" 

Mr.  Superintendent  looked  a  little  taken  aback ;  but  he 
made  the  best  of  it.  "I  can't  charge  my  memory.  Sergeant," 
he  said,  "a  mere  trifle — a  mere  trifle." 


THE  MOONSTONE 

Sergeant  Cuff  looked  at  Mr.  Seegrave  as  he  had  looked  at 
the  gravel-walks  in  the  rosery,  and  gave  us,  in  his  melancholy 
way,  the  first  taste  of  his  quality  which  we  had  had  yet. 

"I  made  a  private  inquiry  last  week,  Mr.  Superintendent," 
he  said.  "At  one  end  of  the  inquiry  there  was  a  murder, 
and  at  the  other  end  there  was  a  spot  of  ink  on  u  table-cloth 
that  nobody  could  account  for.  In  all  my  experience  along 
the  dirtiest  ways  of  this  dirty  little  world  I  have  never  met 
with  such  a  thing  as  a  trifle  yet.  Before  we  go  a  step  farther 
in  this  business  we  must  see  the  petticoat  that  made  the  smear, 
and  we  must  know  for  certain  when  that  paint  was  wet." 

Mr,  Superintendent — taking  his  set-down  rather  sulkily — 
asked  if  he  should  summon  the  women.  Sergeant  Cuff,  after 
considering  a  minute,  sighed,  and  shook  his  head. 

*'No,"  he  said,  "we'll  take  the  matter  of  the  paint  first. 
It's  a  question  of  Yes  or  No  with  the  paint — which  is  short. 
It's  a  question  of  petticoats  with  the  woman — which  is  long. 
What  o'clock  was  it  when  the  servants  were  in  this  room 
yesterday  morning  ?  Eleven  o'clock — eh  ?  Is  there  any  body 
in  the  house  who  knows  whether  that  paint  was  wet  or  dry, 
at  eleven  yesterday  morning?" 

"Her  ladyship's  nephew,  Mr.  Franklin  Blake,  knows,"  I 
said. 

"Is  the  gentleman  in  the  house?" 

Mr.  Franklin  was  as  close  at  hand  as  could  be — waiting 
for  his  first  chance  of  being  introduced  to  the  great  Cuff. 
In  half  a  minute  he  was  in  the  room,  and  was  giving  his 
evidence  as  follows : 

"That  door,  Sergeant,"  he  said,  "has  been  painted  by  Miss 
Verinder,  under  my  inspection,  with  my  help,  and  in  a  vehicle 
of  my  own  composition.  The  vehicle  dries  whatever  colors 
may  be  used  with  it  in  twelve  hours." 

"Do  you  remember  when  the  smeared  bit  was  done,  sir?" 
asked  the  Sergeant. 

"Perfectly,"  answered  Mr.  Franklin.  "That  was  the  last 
morsel  of  the  door  to  be  finished.  We  wanted  to  get  it  done 
on  Wednesday  last,  and  I  myself  completed  it  by  three  in  the 
afternoon,  or  soon  after." 

"To-day  is  Friday,"  said  Sergeant  Cuff,  addressing  him- 
self to  Superintendent  Seegrave.  "Let  us  reckon  back,  sir. 
8  112 


THE  MOONSTONE 

At  three  on  the  Wednesday  afternoon,  that  bit  of  painting 
was  completed.  The  vehicle  dried  it  in  twelve  hours — that 
is  to  say,  dried  it  by  three  o'clock  on  Thursday  morning.  At 
eleven  on  Thursday  morning  you  held  your  inquiry  here. 
Take  three  from  eleven  and  eight  remains.  That  paint  had 
been  eight  hours  dry,  Mr.  Superintendent,  when  you  supposed 
that  the  women-servants'  petticoats  smeared  it." 

First  knock-down  blow  for  Mr.  Seegrave !  If  he  had  not 
suspected  poor  Penelope,  I  should  have  pitied  him. 

Having  settled  the  question  of  the  paint,  Sergeant  Cuff, 
from  the  moment,  gave  his  brother-ofificer  up  as  a  bad  job — 
and  addressed  himself  to  Mr.  Franklin,  as  the  more  promising 
assistant  of  the  two. 

"It's  quite  on  the  cards,  sir,"  he  said,  "that  you  have  put 
the  clue  into  our  hands." 

As  the  words  passed  his  lips  the  bedroom  door  opened, 
and  Miss  Rachel  came  out  among  us  suddenly. 

She  addressed  herself  to  the  Sergeant,  without  appearing 
to  notice,  or  to  heed,  that  he  was  a  perfect  stranger  to  her. 

"Did  you  say,"  she  asked,  pointing  to  Mr.  Franklin,  "that 
he  had  put  the  clue  into  your  hands  ?" 

"This  is  Miss  Verinder,"  I  whispered,  behind  the  Sergeant. 

"That  gentleman,  miss,"  says  the  Sergeant — with  his  steely- 
gray  eyes  carefully  studying  my  young  lady's  face — "has 
possibly  put  the  clue  into  our  hands." 

She  turned  for  one  moment,  and  tried  to  look  at  Mr.  Frank- 
lin. I  say  tried,  for  she  suddenly  looked  away  again  before 
their  eyes  met.  There  seemed  to  be  some  strange  disturb- 
ance in  her  mind.  She  colored  up,  and  then  she  turned  pale 
again.  With  the  paleness  there  came  a  new  look  into  her 
face,  a  look  which  it  startled  me  to  see. 

"Having  answered  your  question,  miss,"  says  the  Ser- 
geant, "I  beg  leave  to  make  an  inquiry  in  my  turn.  There 
is  a  smear  on  the  painting  of  your  door  here.  Do  you  happen 
to  know  when  it  was  done  or  who  did  it?" 

Instead  of  making  any  reply.  Miss  Rachel  went  on  with  her 
questions  as  if  he  had  not  spoken,  or  as  if  she  had  not  heard 
him. 

"Are  you  another  police  officer?"  she  asked. 

"I  am  Sergeant  Cuff,  miss,  of  the  Detective  Police." 

114 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Do  you  think  a  young  lady's  advice  worth  having?" 

"I  shall  be  glad  to  hear  it,  miss." 

"Do  your  duty  by  yourself — and  don't  allow  Mr.  Franklin 
Blake  to  help  you!" 

She  said  those  words  so  spitefully,  so  savagely,  with  such 
an  extraordinary  outbreak  of  ill-will  toward  Mr.  Franklin, 
in  her  voice  and  her  look,  that — though  I  had  known  her  from 
a  baby,  though  I  loved  and  honored  her  next  to  my  lady 
herself — I  was  ashamed  of  Miss  Rachel  for  the  first  time  in 
my  life. 

Sergeant  Cuff's  immovable  eyes  never  stirred  from  off  her 
face.  "Thank  you,  miss,"  he  said.  "Do  you  happen  to  know 
any  thing  about  the  smear?  Might  you  have  done  it  by  acci- 
dent yourself?" 

"I  know  nothing  about  the  smear." 

With  that  answer  she  turned  away,  and  shut  herself  up 
again  in  her  bedroom.  This  time,  I  heard  her — as  Penelope 
had  heard  her  before — burst  out  crying  as  soon  as  she  was 
alone  again. 

I  couldn't  bring  myself  to  look  at  the  Sergeant — I  looked 
at  Mr.  Franklin,  who  stood  nearest  to  me.  He  seemed  to  be 
even  more  sorely  distressed  at  what  had  passed  than  I  was. 

"I  told  you  I  was  uneasy  about  her,"  he  said.  "And  now 
you  see  why." 

"Miss  Verinder  appears  to  be  a  little  out  of  temper  about 
the  loss  of  her  Diamond,"  remarked  the  Sergeant.  "It's  a 
valuable  jewel.     Natural  enough  !  natural  enough  !" 

Here  was  the  excuse  that  I  had  made  for  her,  when  she 
forgot  herself  before  Superintendent  Seegrave,  on  the  pre- 
vious day,  being  made  for  her  over  again,  by  a  man  who 
couldn't  have  had  my  interest  in  making  it — for  he  was  a 
perfect  stranger !  A  kind  of  cold  shudder  ran  through  me, 
which  I  couldn't  account  for  at  the  time.  I  know  now  that 
I  must  have  got  my  first  suspicion,  at  that  moment,  of  a  new 
light,  and  a  horrid  light,  having  suddenly  fallen  on  the  case, 
in  the  mind  of  Sergeant  Cuff — purely  and  entirely  in  conse- 
quence of  what  he  had  seen  in  Miss  Rachel,  and  heard  from 
Miss  Rachel,  at  that  first  interview  between  them. 

"A  young  lady's  tongue  is  a  privileged  member,  sir,"  says 
the   Sergeant  to  Mr.   Franklin.     "Let  us   forget  what  has 

"5 


THE  MOONSTONE 

passed  and  go  straight  on  with  this  business.  Thanks  to  you, 
we  know  when  the  paint  was  dry.  The  next  thing  to  discover 
is  when  the  paint  was  last  seen  without  that  smear.  You 
have  got  a  head  on  your  shoulders — and  you  understand  what 
I  mean." 

Mr.  Franklin  composed  himself,  and  came  back  with  an 
effort  from  Miss  Rachel  to  the  matter  in  hand. 

'T  think  I  do  understand,"  he  said.  "The  more  we  narrow 
the  question  of  time  the  more  we  also  narrow  the  field  of 
inquiry." 

"That's  it,  sir,"  said  the  Sergeant.  "Did  you  notice  your 
work  here  on  the  Wednesday  afternoon,  after  you  had  done 
it?" 

Mr.  Franklin  shook  his  head  and  answered,  "I  can't  say 
I  did." 

"Did  youf"  inquired  Sergeant  Cuff,  turning  to  me. 

"I  can't  say  I  did  either,  sir." 

"Who  was  the  last  person  in  the  room,  the  last  thing  on 
Wednesday  night?" 

"Miss  Rachel,  I  suppose,  sir." 

Mr.  Franklin  struck  in  there,  "Or  possibly  your  daughter, 
Betteredge."  He  turned  to  Sergeant  Cuff,  and  explained 
that  my  daughter  was  Miss  Verinder's  maid. 

"Mr.  Betteredge,  ask  your  daughter  to  step  up.  Stop !" 
says  the  Sergeant,  taking  me  away  to  the  window,  out  of 
ear-shot.  "Your  Superintendent  here,"  he  went  on,  in  a 
whisper,  "has  made  a  pretty  full  report  to  me  of  the  manner 
in  which  he  has  managed  this  case.  Among  other  things 
he  has,  by  his  own  confession,  set  the  servants'  backs  up. 
It's  very  important  to  smooth  them  down  again.  Tell  your 
daughter,  and  tell  the  rest  of  them,  these  two  things  with 
my  compliments :  First,  that  I  have  no  evidence  before  me, 
yet,  that  the  Diamond  has  been  stolen ;  I  only  know  that  the 
Diamond  has  been  lost.  Second,  that  my  business  here  with 
the  servants  is  simply  to  ask  them  to  lay  their  heads  together 
and  help  me  to  find  it." 

My  experience  of  the  women-servants,  when  Superinten- 
dent Seegrave  laid  his  embargo  on  their  rooms,  came  in  handy 
here. 

"May  I  make  so  bold,  Sergeant,  as  to  tell  the  women  a 

ii6 


THE  MOONSTONE 

third  thing?"  I  asked.  "Are  they  free,  with  your  compli- 
ments, to  fidget  up  and  down  stairs,  and  whisk  in  and  out 
of  their  bedrooms,  if  the  fit  takes  them?" 

"Perfectly  free,"  says  the  Sergeant. 

"That  will  smooth  them  down,  sir,"  I  remarked,  "from 
the  cook  to  the  scullion." 

"Go  and  do  it  at  once,  Mr.  Betteredge." 

I  did  it  in  less  than  five  minutes.  There  was  only  one  diffi- 
culty when  I  came  to  the  bit  about  the  bedrooms.  It  took  a 
pretty  stiff  exertion  of  my  authority,  as  chief,  to  prevent  the 
whole  of  the  female  household  from  following  me  and  Penel- 
ope up  stairs,  in  the  character  of  volunteer  witnesses  in  a 
burning  fever  of  anxiety  to  help  Sergeant  Cuff. 

The  Sergeant  seemed  to  approve  of  Penelope.  He  became 
a  trifle  less  dreary ;  and  he  looked  much  as  he  had  looked 
when  he  noticed  the  white  musk-rose  in  the  flower-garden. 
Here  is  my  daughter's  evidence,  as  drawn  off  from  her  by 
the  Sergeant.  She  gave  it,  I  think,  very  prettily — but,  there ! 
she  is  my  child  all  over :  nothing  of  her  mother  in  her ;  Lord 
bless  you,  nothing  of  her  mother  in  her ! 

Penelope  examined :  Took  a  lively  interest  in  the  painting 
on  the  door,  having  helped  to  mix  the  colors.  Noticed  the 
bit  of  work  under  the  lock,  because  it  was  the  last  bit  done. 
Had  seen  it,  some  hours  afterward,  without  a  smear.  Had 
left  it,  as  late  as  twelve  at  night,  without  a  smear.  Had,  at 
that  hour,  wished  her  young  lady  good-night  in  the  bedroom ; 
had  heard  the  clock  strike  in  the  "boudoir;"  had  her  hand 
at  the  time  on  the  handle  of  the  painted  door ;  knew  the  paint 
was  wet,  having  helped  to  mix  the  colors,  as  aforesaid;  took 
particular  pains  not  to  touch  it ;  could  swear  that  she  held  up 
the  skirts  of  her  dress,  and  that  there  was  no  smear  on  the 
paint  then ;  could  not  swear  that  her  dress  mightn't  have 
touched  it  accidentally  in  going  out ;  remembered  the  dress 
she  had  on,  because  it  was  new,  a  present  from  Miss  Rachel ; 
her  father  remembered,  and  could  speak  to  it,  too ;  could, 
and  would,  and  did  fetch  it ;  dress  recognized  by  her  father 
as  the  dress  she  wore  that  night ;  skirts  examined,  a  long  job 
from  the  size  of  them ;  not  the  ghost  of  a  paint  stain  discov- 
ered anywhere.  End  of  Penelope's  evidence — and  very  pretty 
and  convincing,  too.    Signed,  Gabriel  Betteredge. 

117 


THE  MOONSTONE 

The  Sergeant's  next  proceeding  was  to  question  me  about 
any  large  dogs  in  the  house  who  might  have  got  into  the 
room,  and  done  the  mischief  with  a  whisk  of  their  tails. 
Hearing  that  this  was  impossible,  he  next  sent  for  a  magnify- 
ing-glass,  and  tried  how  the  smear  looked,  seen  that  way. 
No  skin-mark,  as  of  a  human  hand,  printed  off  on  the  paint. 
All  the  signs  visible — signs  which  told  that  the  paint  had 
been  smeared  by  some  loose  article  of  somebody's  dress  touch- 
ing it  in  going  by.  That  somebody,  putting  together  Penel- 
ope's evidence  and  Mr.  Franklin's  evidence,  must  have  been 
in  the  room  and  done  the  mischief,  between  midnight  and 
three  o'clock  on  the  Thursday  morning. 

Having  brought  his  investigation  to  this  point.  Sergeant 
Cuff  discovered  that  such  a  person  as  Superintendent  See- 
grave  was  still  left  in  the  room,  upon  which  he  summed  up 
the  proceedings  for  his  brother-officer's  benefit,  as  follows : 

"This  trifle  of  yours,  Mr.  Superintendent,"  says  the  Ser- 
geant, pointing  to  the  place  on  the  door,  "has  grown  a  little 
in  importance  since  you  noticed  it  last.  At  the  present  stage 
of  the  inquiry  there  are,  as  I  take  it,  three  discoveries  to  make, 
starting  from  that  smear.  Find  out,  first,  whether  there  is 
any  article  of  dress  in  this  house  with  the  smear  of  the  paint 
on  it.  Find  out,  second,  who  that  dress  belongs  to.  Find 
out,  third,  how  the  person  can  account  for  having  been  in 
this  room,  and  smeared  the  paint,  between  midnight  and  three 
in  the  morning.  If  the  person  can't  satisfy  you,  you  haven't 
far  to  look  for  the  hand  that  has  got  the  Diamond.  Fll  work 
this  by  myself,  if  you  please,  and  detain  you  no  longer  from 
your  regular  business  in  town.  You  have  got  one  of  your 
men  here,  I  see.  Leave  him  here  at  my  disposal,  in  case  I 
want  him — and  allow  me  to  wish  you  good-morning." 

Superintendent  Seegrave's  respect  for  the  Sergeant  was 
great ;  but  his  respect  for  himself  was  greater  still.  Hit  hard 
by  the  celebrated  Cuff,  he  hit  back  smartly,  to  the  best  of 
his  ability,  on  leaving  the  room. 

"I  have  abstained  from  expressing  any  opinion,  so  far," 
says  Mr.  Superintendent,  with  his  military  voice  still  in  good 
working  order.  "I  have  now  only  one  remark  to  offer,  on 
leaving  this  case  in  your  hands.  There  is  such  a  thing.  Ser- 
geant, as  making  a  mountain  out  of  a  mole-hill.  Good- 
morning," 

ii8 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"There  is  also  such  a  thing  as  making  nothing  out  of  a 
mole-hill,  in  consequence  of  your  head  being  too  high  to  see 
it."  Having  returned  his  brother-officer's  compliment  in 
those  terms,  Sergeant  Cuff  wheeled  about,  and  walked  away 
to  the  window  by  himself. 

Mr.  Franklin  and  I  waited  to  see  what  was  coming  next. 
The  Sergeant  stood  at  the  window,  with  his  hands  in  his 
pockets,  looking  out,  and  whistling  the  tune  of  the  Last  Rose 
of  Summer  softly  to  himself.  Later  in  the  proceedings,  I 
discovered  that  he  only  forgot  his  manners  so  far  as  to 
whistle,  when  his  mind  was  hard  at  work,  seeing  its  way 
inch  by  inch  to  its  own  private  ends,  on  which  occasions  the 
Last  Rose  of  Summer  evidently  helped  and  encouraged  him. 
I  suppose  it  fitted  in  somehow  with  his  character.  It  re- 
minded him,  you  see,  of  his  favorite  roses,  and,  as  he  whistled 
it,  it  was  the  most  melancholy  tune  going. 

Turning  from  the  window,  after  a  minute  or  two,  the  Ser- 
geant walked  into  the  middle  of  the  room,  and  stopped  there, 
deep  in  thought,  with  his  eyes  on  Miss  Rachel's  bedroom 
door.  After  a  little  he  roused  himself,  nodded  his  head,  as 
much  as  to  say,  "That  will  do !"  and,  addressing  me,  asked  for 
ten  minutes'  conversation  with  my  mistress  at  her  ladyship's 
earliest  convenience. 

Leaving  the  room  with  this  message,  I  heard  Mr.  Franklin 
ask  the  Sergeant  a  question,  and  stopped  to  hear  the  answer 
also  at  the  threshold  of  the  door. 

"Can  you  guess  yet,"  inquired  Mr.  Franklin,  "who  has 
stolen  the  Diamond?" 

"Nobody  has  stolen  the  Diamond/'  answered  Sergeant 
Cuff. 

We  both  started  at  that  extraordinary  view  of  the  case, 
and  both  earnestly  begged  him  to  tell  us  what  he  meant. 

"Wait  a  little,"  said  the  Sergeant.  "The  pieces  of  the 
puzzle  are  not  all  put  together  yet." 


CHAPTER    XHL 

I  FOUND  my  lady  in  her  own  sitting-room.     She  started 
and  looked  annoyed  when  I  mentioned  that  Sergeant  Cuff 
wished  to  speak  to  her. 

119 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Must  I  see  him?"  she  asked.  "Can't  you  represent  me, 
Gabriel  ?" 

I  felt  at  a  loss  to  understand  this,  and  showed  it  plainly,  I 
suppose,  in  my  face.  My  lady  was  so  good  as  to  explain 
herself. 

"I  am  afraid  my  nerves  are  a  little  shaken,"  she  said. 
"There  is  something  in  that  police  officer  from  London  which 
I  recoil  from — I  don't  know  why.  I  have  a  presentiment  that 
he  is  bringing  trouble  and  misery  with  him  into  the  house. 
Very  foolish  and  very  unlike  me — but  so  it  is." 

I  hardly  knew  what  to  say  to  this.  The  more  I  saw  of 
Sergeant  Cuif  the  better  I  liked  him.  My  lady  rallied  a 
little  after  having  opened  her  heart  to  me — being  nat- 
urally a  woman  of  a  high  courage,  as  I  have  already  told 
you. 

"If  I  must  see  him,  I  must,"  she  said.  "But  I  can't  prevail 
on  myself  to  see  him  alone.  Bring  him  in,  Gabriel,  and  stay 
here  as  long  as  he  stays." 

This  was  the  first  attack  of  the  megrims  that  I  remembered 
in  my  mistress  since  the  time  wdien  she  was  a  young  girl.  I 
went  back  to  the  "boudoir."  Mr.  Franklin  strolled  out  into 
the  garden  and  joined  Mr.  Godfrey,  whose  time  for  departure 
was  now  drawing  near.  Sergeant  Cuff  and  I  went  straight 
to  my  mistress's  room. 

I  declare  my  lady  turned  a  shade  paler  at  the  sight  of 
him !  She  commanded  herself,  however,  in  other  respects, 
and  asked  the  Sergeant  if  he  had  any  objection  to  my  being 
present.  She  was  so  good  as  to  add  that  I  was  her  trusted 
adviser  as  well  as  her  old  servant,  and  that  in  any  thing  which 
related  to  the  household  I  was  the  person  whom  it  might  be 
most  profitable  to  consult.  The  Sergeant  politely  answered 
that  he  would  take  my  presence  as  a  favor,  having  something 
to  say  about  the  servants  in  general,  and  having  found  my 
experience  in  that  quarter  already  of  some  use  to  him.  My 
lady  pointed  to  two  chairs,  and  we  set  in  for  our  conference 
immediately. 

"I  have  already  formed  an  opinion  on  this  case,"  says  Ser- 
geant Cuff,  "which  I  beg  your  ladyship's  permission  to  keep 
to  myself  for  the  present.  My  business  now  is  to  mention 
what  I  have  discovered  up  stairs  in  ]\Iiss  Verinder's  sitting"- 

120 


I 

it  I 


THE  MOONSTONE 

room,  and  what  I  have  decided,  with  your  ladyship's  leave, 
on  doing  next." 

He.  then  went  into  the  matter  of  the  smear  on  the  paint, 
and  stated  the  conclusions  he  drew  from  it — just  as  he  had 
stated  them,  only  with  greater  respect  of  language,  to  Super- 
intendent Seegrave.  "One  thing,"  he  said,  in  conclusion, 
"is  certain.  The  Diamond  is  missing  out  of  the  drawer  in 
the  cabinet.  .  Another  thing  is  next  to  certain.  The  marks 
from  the  smear  on  the  door  must  be  on  some  article  of  dress 
belonging  to  somebody  in  this  house.  We  must  discover 
that  article  of  dress  before  we  go  a  step  farther." 

"And  that  discovery,"  remarked  my  mistress,  "implies,  I 
presume,  the  discovery  of  the  thief?" 

'T  beg  your  ladyship's  pardon — I  don't  say  the  Diamond 
is  stolen.  I  only  say,  at  present,  that  the  Diamond  is  missing. 
The  discovery  of  the  stained  dress  may  lead  the  way  to  find- 
ing it." 

Her  ladyship  looked  at  me.  "Do  you  understand  this?" 
she  said. 

"Sergeant  Cuff  understands  it,  my  lady,"  I  answered. 

"How  do  you  propose  to  discover  the  stained  dress?" 
inquired  my  mistress,  addressing  herself  once  more  to  the 
Sergeant.  "My  good  servants,  who  have  been  with  me  for 
years,  have,  I  am  ashamed  to  say,  had  their  boxes  and  rooms 
searched  already  by  the  other  officer.  I  can't  and  won't  per- 
mit them  to  be  insulted  in  that  way  a  second  time." 

(There  was  a  mistress  to  serve!  There  was  a  woman  in 
ten  thousand,  if  you  like!) 

"That  is  the  very  point  I  was  about  to  put  to  your  lady- 
ship," said  the  Sergeant.  "The  other  officer  has  done  a 
world  of  harm  to  this  inquiry  by  letting  the  servants  see  that 
he  suspected  them.  If  I-  give  them  cause  to  think  themselves 
suspected  a  second  time,  there's  no  knowing  what  obstacles 
they  may  not  throw  in  my  way — the  women  especially.  At 
the  same  time,  their  boxes  must  be  searched  again — for  this 
plain  reason,  that  the  first  investigation  only  looked  for  the 
Diamond,  and  that  the  second  investigation  must  look  for  the 
stained  dress.  I  quite  agree  with  you,  my  lady,  that  the  ser- 
vants' feelings  ought  to  be  consulted.  But  I  am  equally  clear 
that  the  servants'  wardrobes  ought  to  be  searched." 

121 


THE  MOONSTONE 

This  looked  very  like  a  dead-lock.  My  lady  said  so,  in 
choicer  language  than  mine. 

"I  have  got  a  plan  to  meet  the  difficulty,"  said  Sergeant 
Cuff,  "if  your  ladyship  will  consent  to  it.  I  propose  explain- 
ing the  case  to  the  servants." 

"The  women  will  think  themselves  suspected  directly,"  I 
said,  interrupting  him. 

"The  women  won't,  Mr.  Betteredge,"  answered  the  Ser- 
geant, "if  I  can  tell  them  I  am  going  to  examine  the  ward- 
robes of  every  body — from  her  ladyship  downward — who 
slept  in  the  house  on  Wednesday  night.  It's  a  mere  formal- 
ity," he  added,  with  a  side  look  at  my  mistress ;  "but  the 
servants  will  accept  it  as  even  dealing  between  them  and 
their  betters ;  and,  instead  of  hindering  the  investigation,  they 
will  make  a  point  of  honor  of  assisting  it." 

I  saw  the  truth  of  that.  My  lady,  after  her  first  surprise 
was  over,  saw  the  truth  of  it  also. 

"You  are  certain  the  investigation  is  necessary?"  she  said. 

"It's  the  shortest  way  that  I  can  see,  my  lady,  to  the  end 
we  have  in  view." 

My  mistress  rose  to  ring  the  bell  for  her  maid.  "You  shall 
speak  to  the  servants,"  she  said,  "with  the  keys  of  my  ward- 
robe in  your  hand." 

Sergeant  Cuff  stopped  her  by  a  very  unexpected  question. 

"Hadn't  we  better  make  sure  first,"  he  asked,  "that  the 
other  ladies  and  gentlemen  in  the  house  will  consent,  too?" 

"The  only  other  lady  in  the  house  is  Miss  Verinder,"  an- 
swered my  mistress,  with  a  look  of  surprise.  "The  only 
gentlemen  are  my  nephews,  Mr.  Blake  and  Mr.  Ablewhite. 
There  is  not  the  least  fear  of  a  refusal  from  any  of  the  three." 

I  reminded  my  lady  here  that  Mr.  Godfrey  was  going 
away.  As  I  said  the  words  Mr.  Godfrey  himself  knocked  at 
the  door  to  say  good-bye,  and  was  followed  in  by  Mr.  Frank- 
lin, who  was  going  with  him  to  the  station.  My  lady  ex- 
plained the  difficulty.  Mr.  Godfrey  settled  it  directly.  He 
called  to  Samuel,  through  the  window,  to  take  his  portman- 
teau up  stairs  again,  and  he  then  put  the  key  himself  into 
Sergeant  Cuff's  hand.  "My  luggage  can  follow  me  to  Lon- 
don," he  said,  "when  the  inquiry  is  over."  The  Sergeant 
received  the  key  with  a  becoming  apology.     'T  am  sorry  to 


THE  MOONSTONE 

put  you  to  any  inconvenience,  sir,  for  a  mere  formality;  but 
the  example  of  their  betters  will  do  wonders  in  reconciling 
the  servants  to  this  inquiry."  Mr.  Godfrey,  after  taking  leave 
of  my  lady  in  a  most  sympathizing  manner,  left  a  farewell 
message  for  Miss  Rachel,  the  terms  of  which  made  it  clear 
to  my  mind  that  he  had  not  taken  No  for  an  answer,  and 
that  he  meant  to  put  the  marriage  question  to  her  once  more, 
at  the  next  opportunity.  Mr.  Franklin,  on  following  his 
cousin  out,  informed  the  Sergeant  that  all  his  clothes  were 
open  to  examination,  and  that  nothing  he  possessed  was  kept 
under  lock  and  key.  Sergeant  Cuff  made  his  best  acknow- 
ledgments. His  views,  you  will  observe,  had  been  met  with 
the  utmost  readiness  by  my  lady,  by  Mr,  Godfrey,  and  by  Mr. 
Franklin.  There  was  only  Miss  Rachel  now  wanting  to  fol- 
low their  lead,  before  we  called  the  servants  together,  and 
began  the  search  for  the  stained  dress. 

My  lady's  unaccountable  objection  to  the  Sergeant  seemed 
to  make  our  conference  more  distasteful  to  her  than  ever, 
as  soon  as  we  were  left  alone  again.  'Tf  I  send  you  down 
Miss  Verinder's  keys,"  she  said  to  him,  "I  presume  I  shall 
have  done  all  yovi  want  of  me  for  the  present." 

"I  beg  your  ladyship's  pardon,"  said  Sergeant  Cuff.  "Be- 
fore we  begin,  I  should  like,  if  convenient,  to  have  the  wash- 
ing-book. The  stained  article  of  dress  may  be  an  article  of 
linen.  If  the  search  leads  to  nothing,  I  want  to  be  able  to 
account  next  for  all  the  linen  in  the  hovise,  and  for  all  the 
linen  sent  to  wash.  H  there  is  an  article  missing,  there  will 
be  at  least  a  presumption  that  it  has  got  the  paint-stain  on 
it,  and  that  it  has  been  purposely  made  away  with,  yesterday 
or  to-day,  by  the  person  owning  it.  Superintendent  See- 
grave,"  added  the  Sergeant,  turning  to  me,  "pointed  the 
attention  of  the  women-servants  to  the  smear,  when  they  all 
crowded  into  the  room  on  Thursday  morning.  That  may 
turn  out,  Mr.  Bctteredge,  to  have  been  one  more  of  Superin- 
tendent Seegrave's  many  mistakes." 

My  lady  desired  me  to  ring  the  bell  and  order  the  washing- 
book.  She  remained  with  us  until  it  was  produced,  in  case 
Sergeant  Cuff  had  any  further  request  to  make  of  her  after 
looking  at  it. 

The  washing-book  was  brought  in  by  Rosanna  Spearman. 

123 


THE  MOONSTONE 

The  girl  had  come  down  to  breakfast  that  morning  miserably 
pale  and  haggard,  but  sufficiently  recovered  from  her  illness 
of  the  previous  day  to  do  her  usual  work.  Sergeant  Cuff 
looked  attentively  at  our  second  house-maid — at  her  face, 
when  she  came  in;  at  her  crooked  shoulder,  when  she  went 
out. 

"Have  you  anything  more  to  say  to  me?"  asked  my  lady, 
still  as  eager  as  ever  to  be  out  of  the  Sergeant's  society. 

The  great  Cuff  opened  the  washing-book,  understood  it 
perfectly  in  half  a  minute,  and  shut  it  up  again.  "I  venture 
to  trouble  your  ladyship  with  one  last  question,"  he  said. 
"Has  the  young  woman  who  brought  us  this  book  been  in 
your  employment  as  long  as  the  other  servants  ?" 

"Why  do  you  ask?"  said  my  lady. 

"The  last  time  I  saw  her,"  answered  the  Sergeant,  "she 
was  in  prison  for  theft." 

After  that  there  was  no  help  for  it  but  to  tell  him  the 
truth.  My  mistress  dwelt  strongly  on  Rosanna's  good  con- 
duct in  her  service,  and  on  the  high  opinion  entertained  of 
her  by  the  matron  at  the  Reformatory.  "You  don't  suspect 
her,  I  hope?"  my  lady  added,  in  conclusion,  very  earnestly. 

"I  have  already  told  your  ladyship  that  I  don't  suspect 
any  person  in  the  house  of  thieving,  up  to  the  present  time." 

After  that  answer  my  lady  rose  to  go  up  stairs,  and  ask 
for  Miss  Rachel's  keys.  The  Sergeant  was  beforehand  with 
me  in  opening  the  door  for  her.  He  made  a  very  low  bow. 
My  lady  shuddered  as  she  passed  him. 

We  waited,  and  waited,  and  no  keys  appeared.  Sergeant 
Cuff  made  no  remark  to  me.  He  turned  his  melancholy  face 
to  the  window ;  he  put  his  lanky  hands  into  his  pockets,  and 
he  whistled  The  Last  Rose  of  Summer  drearily  to  himself. 

At  last  Samuel  came  in,  not  with  the  keys,  but  with  a 
morsel  of  paper  for  me.  I  got  at  my  spectacles  with  some 
fumbling  and  difficulty,  feeling  the  Sergeant's  dismal  eyes 
fixed  on  me  all  the  time.  There  were  two  or  three  lines  on 
the  paper,  written  in  pencil  by  my  lady.  They  informed  me 
that  Miss  Rachel  flatly  refused  to  have  her  wardrobe  exam- 
ined. Asked  for  her  reasons,  she  had  burst  out  crying.  Asked 
again,  she  had  said :  "I  won't,  because  I  won't.  I  must  yield 
to  force  if  you  use  it.  but  I  will  yield  to  nothing  else."     I 

124 


THE  MOONSTONE 

understood  my  lady's  disinclination  to  face  Sergeant  Cuff 
with  such  an  answer  from  her  daughter  as  that.  If  I  had  not 
been  too  old  for  the  amiable  weakness  of  youth,  I  believe  I 
should  have  blushed  at  the  notion  of  facing  him  myself. 

"Any  news  of  Miss  Verinder's  keys?"  asked  the  Sergeant. 

"My  young  lady  refuses  to  have  her  wardrobe  examined." 

"Ah!"  said  the  Sergeant. 

His  voice  was  not  quite  in  such  a  perfect  state  of  discipline 
as  his  face.  When  he  said  "Ah!"  he  said  it  in  the  tone  of  a 
man  who  had  heard  something  which  he  expected  to  hear. 
He  half-angered  and  half-frightened  me — why,  I  couldn't  tell, 
but  he  did  it. 

"Must  the  search  be  given  up?"  I  asked. 

"Yes,"  said  the  Sergeant,  "the  search  must  be  given  up, 
because  your  young  lady  refuses  to  submit  to  it  like  the  rest. 
We  must  examine  all  the  wardrobes  in  the  house  or  none. 
Send  Mr.  Ablewhite's  portmanteau  to  London  by  the  next 
train,  and  return  the  washing-book,  with  my  compliments 
and  thanks,  to  the  young  woman  who  brought  it  in." 

He  laid  the  washing-book  on  the  table,  and,  taking  out  his 
penknife,  began  to  trim  his  nails. 

"You  don't  seem  to  be  much  disappointed,"  I  said. 

"No,"  said  Sergeant  Cuff;  "I'm  not  much  disappointed." 

I  tried  to  make  him  explain  himself. 

"Why  should  Miss  Rachel  put  an  obstacle  in  your  way?" 
I  inquired.    "Isn't  it  her  interest  to  help  you  ?" 

"Wait  a  little,  Mr.  Betteredge— wait  a  little." 

Cleverer  heads  than  mine  might  have  seen  his  drift.  Or  a 
person  less  fond  of  Miss  Rachel  than  I  was  might  have  seen 
his  drift.  My  lady's  horror  of  him  might,  as  I  have  since 
thought,  have  meant  that  she  saw  his  drift,  as  the  Scripture 
says,  "in  a  glass  darkly."  I  didn't  see  it  yet — that's  all  I 
know. 

"What's  to  be  done  next?"  I  asked. 

Sergeant  Cuff  finished  the  nail  on  which  he  was  then  at 
work,  looked  at  it  for  a  moment  with  a  melancholy  interest, 
and  put  up  his  penknife. 

"Come  out  into  the  garden,"  he  said,  "and  let's  have  a 
look  at  the  roses." 


"5 


THE  MOONSTONE 


CHAPTER   XIV. 


THE  nearest  way  to  the  garden,  on  going  out  of  my  lady's 
sitting-room,  was  by  the  shrubbery  path,  which  you 
already  know  of.  For  the  sake  of  your  better  understanding 
of  what  is  now  to  come,  I  may  add  to  this,  that  the  shrubbery 
path  was  Mr.  Franklin's  favorite  walk.  When  he  was  out 
in  the  grounds,  and  when  we  failed  to  find  him  anywhere 
else,  we  generally  found  him  here. 

I  am  afraid  I  must  own  that  I  am  rather  an  obstinate  old 
man.  The  more  firmly  Sergeant  Cuff  kept  his  thoughts  shut 
up  from  me  the  more  firmly  I  persisted  in  trying  to  look  in 
at  them.  As  we  turned  into  the  shrubbery  path  I  attempted 
to  circumvent  him  in  another  way. 

"As  things  are  now,"  I  said,  "if  I  was  in  your  place  I  should 
be  at  my  wits'  end." 

"If  you  were  in  my  place,"  answered  the  Sergeant,  "you 
would  have  formed  an  opinion — and,  as  things  are  now,  any 
doubt  you  might  previously  have  felt  about  your  own  con- 
clusions would  be  completely  set  at  rest.  Never  mind,  for 
the  present,  what  those  conclusions  are,  Mr.  Betteredge.  I 
haven't  brought  you  out  here  to  draw  me  like  a  badger ;  I 
have  brought  you  out  here  to  ask  for  some  information.  You 
might  have  given  it  to  me,  no  doubt,  in  the  house,  instead 
of  out  of  it.  But  doors  and  listeners  have  a  knack  of  getting 
together,  and,  in  my  line  of  life,  we  sometimes  cultivate  a 
healthy  taste  for  the  open  air." 

Who  was  to  circumvent  this  man?  I  gave  in — and  waited 
as  patiently  as  I  could  to  hear  what  was  coming  next. 

"We  won't  enter  into  your  young  lady's  motives,"  the  Ser- 
geant went  on ;  "we  will  only  say  it's  a  pity  she  declines  to 
assist  me,  because,  by  so  doing,  she  makes  this  investigation 
more  difficult  than  it  might  otherwise  have  been.  We  must 
now  try  to  solve  the  mystery  of  the  smear  on  the  door — 
which,  you  may  take  my  word  for  it,  means  the  mystery  of 
the  Diamond  also — in  some  other  way.  I  have  decided  to  see 
the  servants,  and  to  search  their  thoughts  and  actions,  Mr. 
Betteredge,  instead  of  searching  their  wardrobes.  Before 
I  begin,  however,  I  want  to  ask  you  a  question  or  two.    You 

126 


THE  MOONSTONE 

are  an  observant  man — did  you  notice  any  thing  strange  in 
any  of  the  servants,  making  due  allowance,  of  course,  for 
fright  and  fluster,  after  the  loss  of  the  Diamond  was  found 
out  ?  Any  particular  quarrel  among  them  ?  Any  one  of  them 
not  in  his  or  her  usual  spirits  ?  Unexpectedly  out  of  temper, 
for  instance  ?  or  unexpectedly  taken  ill  ?" 

I  had  just  time  to  think  of  Rosanna  Spearman's  sudden 
illness  at  yesterday's  dinner — but  not  time  to  make  any  an- 
swer— when  I  saw  Sergeant  Cuff's  eyes  suddenly  turn  aside 
toward  the  shrubbery ;  and  I  heard  him  say  softly  to  himself, 
"Halloo !" 

"What's  the  matter?"  I  asked. 

"A  touch  of  the  rheumatics  in  my  back,"  said  the  Sergeant, 
in  a  loud  voice,  as  if  he  wanted  some  third  person  to  hear 
us.    "We  shall  have  a  change  in  the  weather  before  long."   ■ 

A  few  steps  farther  brought  us  to  the  corner  of  the  house. 
Turning  off  sharp  to  the  right,  we  entered  on  the  terrace, 
and  went  down,  by  the  steps  in  the  middle,  into  the  garden 
below.  Sergeant  Cuff  stopped  there,  in  the  open  space,  where 
we  could  see  round  us  on  every  side. 

"About  that  young  person,  Rosanna  Spearman  ?"  he  said. 
"It  isn't  very  likely,  with  her  personal  appearance,  that  she 
has  got  a  lover.  But,  for  the  girl's  own  sake,  I  must  ask 
you  at  once  whether  she  has  provided  herself  with  a  sweet- 
heart, poor  wretch,  like  the  rest  of  them?" 

What  on  earth  did  he  mean,  under  present  circumstances, 
by  putting  such  a  question  to  me  as  that?  I  stared  at  him 
instead  of  answering  him. 

"I  saw  Rosanna  Spearman  hiding  in  the  shrubbery  as  we 
went  by,"  said  the  Sergeant. 

"When  you  said,  'Halloo?'" 

"Yes — when  I  said,  'Halloo.'  If  there's  a  sweetheart  in 
the  case,  the  hidi..g  doesn't  much  matter.  If  there  isn't — 
as  things  are  in  this  house — the  hiding  is  a  highly  suspicious 
circumstance,  and  it  will  be  my  painful  duty  to  act  on  it 
accordingly." 

What,  in  God's  name,  was  I  to  say  to  him?  I  knew  the 
shrubbery  was  Mr.  Franklin's  favorite  walk ;  I  knew  he 
would  most  likely  turn  that  way  when  he  came  back  from 
the  station ;  I  knew  that  Penelope  had  over  and  over  again 

127 


THE  MOONSTONE 

caught  her  fellow-servant  hanging  about  there,  and  had 
always  declared  to  me  that  Rosanna's  object  was  to  attract 
Mr.  Franklin's  attention.  If  my  daughter  was  right,  she 
might  well  have  been  lying  in  wait  for  Mr.  Franklin's  return 
when  the  Sergeant  noticed  her.  I  was  put  between  the  two 
dififiiculties  of  mentioning  Penelope's  fanciful  notion  as  if  it 
was  mine,  or  of  leaving  an  unfortunate  creature  to  suffer  the 
consequences,  the  very  serious  consequences,  of  exciting  the 
suspicion  of  Sergeant  Cuff.  Out  of  pure  pity  for  the  girl — 
on  my  soul  and  my  character,  out  of  pure  pity  for  the  girl 
— I  gave  the  Sergeant  the  necessary  explanations,  and  told 
him  that  Rosanna  had  been  mad  enough  to  set  her  heart  on 
Mr.  Franklin  Blake. 

Sergeant  Cuff  never  laughed.  On  the  few  occasions  when 
any  thing  amused  him  he  curled  up  a  little  at  the  corners  of 
the  lips,  nothing  more.     He  curled  up  now. 

"Hadn't  you  better  say  she's  mad  enough  to  be  an  ugly 
girl  and  only  a  servant?"  he  asked.  "The  falling  in  love 
with  a  gentleman  of  Mr.  Franklin  Blake's  manners  and  ap- 
pearance doesn't  seem  to  me  to  be  the  maddest  part  of  her 
conduct  by  any  means.  However,  Fm  glad  the  thing  is 
cleared  up ;  it  relieves  one's  mind  to  have  things  cleared  up. 
Yes,  Fll  keep  it  a  secret,  Mr.  Betteredge.  I  like  to  be  tender 
to  human  infirmity — though  I  don't  get  many  chances  of  ex- 
ercising that  virtue  in  my  line  of  life.  You  think  Mr.  Frank- 
lin Blake  hasn't  got  a  suspicion  of  the  girl's  fancy  for  him? 
Ah !  he  would  have  found  it  out  fast  enough  if  she  had  been 
nice-looking.  The  ugly  women  have  a  bad  time  of  it  in  this 
world ;  let's  hope  it  will  be  made  up  to  them  in  another.  You 
have  got  a  nice  garden  there,  and  a  well-kept  lawn.  See  for 
yourself  how  much  better  the  flowers  look  with  grass  about 
them  instead  of  gravel.  No,  thank  you.  I  won't  take  a  rose. 
It  goes  to  my  heart  to  break  them  off  the  stem.  Just  as  it 
goes  to  your  heart,  you  know,  when  there's  something  wrong 
in  the  servants'  hall.  Did  you  notice  any  thing  you  couldn't 
account  for  in  any  of  the  servants  when  the  loss  of  the  Dia- 
mond was  first  found  out?" 

I  had  got  on  very  fairly  well  with  Sergeant  Cuff  so  far. 
But  the  slyness  with  which  he  slipped  in  that  last  question 
put  me  on  my  guard.    In  plain  English,  I  didn't  at  all  relish 

128 


THE  MOONSTONE 

the  notion  of  helping  his  inquiries,  when  those  inquiries  took 
him,  in  the  capacity  of  snake  in  the  grass,  among  my  fellow- 
servants. 

"I  noticed  nothing,"  I  said,  "except  that  we  all  lost  our 
heads  together,  myself  included." 

"Oh,"  says  the  Sergeant,  "that's  all  you  have  to  tell  me, 
is  it?" 

I  answered,  with,  as  I  flattered  myself,  an  unmoved  coun- 
tenance, "That  is  all." 

Sergeant  Cuff's  dismal  eyes  looked  me  hard  in  the  face. 

"Mr.  Betteredge,"  he  said,  "have  you  any  objection  to 
oblige  me  by  shaking  hands  ?  I  have  taken  an  extraordinary 
liking  to  you." 

Why  he  should  have  chosen  the  exact  moment  when  I  was 
deceiving  him  to  give  me  that  proof  of  his  good  opinion  is 
beyond  all  comprehension !  I  felt  a  little  proud — I  really  did 
feel  a  little  proud  of  having  been  one  too  many  at  last  for 
the  celebrated  Cuff! 

We  went  back  to  the  house ;  the  Sergeant  requesting  that 
I  would  give  him  a  room  to  himself,  and  then  send  in  the 
servants,  the  indoor  servants  only,  one  after  another,  in  the 
order  of  their  rank,  from  first  to  last. 

I  showed  Sergeant  Cuff  into  my  own  room,  and  then  called 
the  servants  together  in  the  hall.  Rosanna  Spearman  ap- 
peared among  them,  much  as  usual.  She  was  as  quick  in  her 
way  as  the  Sergeant  in  his  and  I  suspect  she  had  heard  what 
he  said  to  me  about  the  servants  in  general,  just  before  he 
discovered  her.  There  she  was,  at  any  rate,  looking  as  if 
she  had  never  heard  of  such  a  place  as  the  shrubbery  in  her 
life. 

I  sent  them  in,  one  by  one,  as  desired.  The  cook  was  the 
first  to  enter  the  Court  of  Justice,  otherwise  my  room.  She 
remained  but  a  short  time.  Report,  on  coming  out :  "Ser- 
geant Cuff  is  depressed  in  his  spirits ;  but  Sergeant  Cuff  is 
a  perfect  gentleman."  My  lady's  own  maid  followed.  Re- 
mained much  longer.  Report,  on  coming  out:  "If  Sergeant 
Cuff  doesn't  believe  a  respectable  woman,  he  might  keep  his 
opinion  to  himself,  at  any  rate !"  Penelope  went  next.  Re- 
mained only  a  moment  or  two.  Report,  on  coming  out :  "Ser- 
geant Cuff  is  much  to  be  pitied.  He  must  have  been  crossed 
®  129 


THE  MOONSTONE 

in  love,  father,  when  he  was  a  young  man."  The  first  house- 
maid followed  Penelope.  Remained,  like  my  lady's  maid,  a 
long  time.  Report,  on  coming  out :  "I  didn't  enter  her 
ladyship's  service,  Mr.  Betteredge,  to  be  doubted  to  my  face 
by  a  low  police  officer !"  Rosanna  Spearman  went  next.  Re- 
mained longer  than  any  of  them.  No  report  on  coming  out 
— dead  silence,  and  lips  as  pale  as  ashes.  Samuel,  the  foot- 
man, followed  Rosanna.  Remained  a  minute  or  two.  Re- 
port, on  coming  out :  "Whoever  blacks  Sergeant  Cuff's  boots 
ought  to  be  ashamed  of  himself."  Nancy,  the  kitchen-maid, 
went  last.  Remained  a  minute  or  two.  Report,  on  coming 
out:  "Sergeant  Cuff  has  a  heart;  he  doesn't  cut  jokes,  Mr. 
Betteredge,  with  a  poor  hard-working  girl." 

Going  into  the  Court  of  Justice,  when  it  was  all  over,  to 
hear  if  there  were  any  further  commands  for  me,  I  found  the 
Sergeant  at  his  old  trick — looking  out  of  the  window  and 
whistling  The  Last  Rose  of  Summer  to  himself. 

"Any  discoveries,  sir?"  I  inquired. 

"If  Rosanna  Spearman  asks  leave  to  go  out,"  said  the  Ser- 
geant, "let  the  poor  thing  go ;  but  let  me  know  first." 

I  might  as  well  have  held  my  tongue  about  Rosanna  and 
Mr.  Franklin !  It  was  plain  enough ;  the  unfortunate  girl 
had  fallen  under  Sergeant  Cuff's  suspicions,  in  spite  of  all  I 
could  do  to  prevent  it. 

"I  hope  you  don't  think  Rosanna  is  concerned  in  the  loss 
of  the  Diamond  ?"  I  ventured  to  say. 

The  corners  of  the  Sergeant's  melancholy  mouth  curled  up, 
and  he  looked  hard  in  my  face ;  just  as  he  had  looked  in  the 
garden. 

"I  think  I  had  better  not  tell  you,  Mr.  Betteredge,"  he  said. 
"You  might  lose  your  head,  you  know,  for  the  second  time." 

I  began  to  doubt  whether  I  had  been  one  too  many  for 
the  celebrated  Cuff,  after  all !  It  was  rather  a  relief  to  me 
that  we  were  interrupted  here  by  a  knock  at  the  door  and  a 
message  from  the  cook.  Rosanna  Spearman  had  asked  to  go 
out,  for  the  usual  reason,  that  her  head  was  bad,  and  she 
wanted  a  breath  of  fresh  air.  At  a  sign  from  the  Sergeant, 
I  said,  "Yes."  "Which  is  the  servants'  way  out?"  he  asked, 
when  the  messenger  had  gone.  I  showed  him  the  servants' 
way  out.    "Lock  the  door  of  your  room,"  says  the  Sergeant; 

130 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"and  if  any  body  asks  for  me,  say  I'm  in  there,  composing 
my  mind."  He  curled  up  again  at  the  corners  of  the  lips, 
and  disappeared. 

Left  alone,  under  those  circumstances,  a  devouring  curi- 
osity pushed  me  on  to  make  some  discoveries  for  myself. 

It  was  plain  that  Sergeant  Cuff's  suspicions  of  Rosanna 
had  been  roused  by  something  that  he  had  found  out  at  his 
examination  of  the  servants  in  my  room.  Now,  the  only  two 
servants,  excepting  Rosanna  herself,  who  had  remained  under 
examination  for  any  length  of  time  were  my  lady's  own  maid 
and  the  first  house-maid,  those  two  being  also  the  women 
who  had  taken  the  lead  in  persecuting  their  unfortunate 
fellow-servant  from  the  first.  Reaching  these  conclusions,  I 
looked  in  on  them,  casually  as  it  might  be,  in  the  servants', 
hall,  and,  finding  tea  going  forward,  instantly  invited  myself 
to  that  meal.  (For,  nota  bene,  a  drop  of  tea  is,  to  a  woman's 
tongue,  what  a  drop  of  oil  is  to  a  wasting  lamp.) 

My  reliance  on  the  tea-pot  as  an  ally  did  not  go  un- 
rewarded. In  less  than  half  an  hour  I  knew  as  much  as  the 
Sergeant  himself. 

My  lady's  maid  and  the  house-maid  had,  it  appears,  neither 
of  them  believed  in  Rosanna's  illness  of  the  previous  day. 
These  two  devils — I  ask  your  pardon,  but  how  else  can  you 
describe  a  couple  of  spiteful  women? — had  stolen  up  stairs, 
at  intervals  during  the  Thursday  afternoon ;  had  tried  Ro- 
sanna's door  and  found  it  locked ;  had  knocked  and  not  been 
answered ;  had  listened  and  not  heard  a  sound  inside.  When 
the  girl  had  come  down  to  tea,  and  had  been  sent  up,  still 
out  of  sorts,  to  bed  again,  the  two  devils  aforesaid  had  tried 
her  door  once  more,  and  found  it  locked ;  had  looked  at  the 
key-hole,  and  found  it  stopped  up ;  had  seen  a  light  under  the 
door  at  midnight,  and  had  heard  the  crackling  of  a  fire — a 
fire  in  a  servant's  bedroom  in  the  month  of  June ! — at  four  in 
the  morning.  All  this  they  had  told  Sergeant  Cuff,  who,  in 
return  for  their  anxiety  to  enlighten  him,  had  eyed  them 
with  sour  and  suspicious  looks,  and  had  shown  them  plainly 
that  he  didn't  believe  either  one  or  the  other.  Hence  the  un- 
favorable reports  of  him  which  these  two  women  had  brought 
out  with  them  from  the  examination.  Hence,  also,  without 
reckoning  the  influence  of  the  tea-pot,  their  readiness  to  let 

131 


THE  MOONSTONE 

their  tongues  run  to  any  length  on  the  subject  of  the  Ser- 
geant's ungracious  behavior  to  them. 

Having  had  some  experience  of  the  great  Cuff's  round- 
about ways,  and  having  last  seen  him  evidently  bent  on  fol- 
lowing Rosanna  privately  when  she  went  out  for  her  walk, 
it  seemed  clear  to  me  that  he  had  thought  it  unadvisable  to 
let  the  lady's  maid  and  the  house-maid  know  how  materially 
they  had  helped  him.  They  were  just  the  sort  of  women, 
if  he  had  treated  their  evidence  as  trustworthy,  to  have  been 
puffed  up  by  it,  and  to  have  said  or  done  something  which 
would  have  put  Rosanna  Spearman  on  her  guard. 

I  walked  out  in  the  fine  summer  evening,  very  sorry  for  the 
poor  girl,  and  very  uneasy  in  my  mind,  generally,  at  the  turn 
things  had  taken.  Drifting  toward  the  shrubbery,  there  I  met 
Mr.  Franklin  in  his  favorite  walk.  He  had  been  back  some 
time  from  the  station  and  had  been  with  my  lady,  holding 
a  long  conversation  with  her.  She  had  told  him  of  Miss 
Rachel's  unaccountable  refusal  to  let  her  wardrobe  be  exam- 
ined and  had  put  him  in  such  low  spirits  about  my  young 
lady  that  he  seemed  to  shrink  from  speaking  on  the  subject. 
The  family  temper  appeared  in  his  face  that  evening  for  the 
first  time  in  my  experience  of  him. 

"Well,  Betteredge,"  he  said,  "how  does  the  atmosphere  of 
mystery  and  suspicion  in  which  we  are  all  living  now  agree 
with  you?  Do  you  remember  that  morning  when  I  first 
came  here  with  the  Moonstone?  I  wish  to  God  we  had 
thrown  it  into  the  quicksand !" 

After  breaking  out  in  that  way,  he  abstained  from  speak- 
ing again  until  he  had  composed  himself.  We  walked  silently, 
side  by  side,  for  a  minute  or  two,  and  then  he  asked  me  what 
had  become  of  Sergeant  Cuff.  It  was  impossible  to  put  Mr. 
Franklin  off  with  the  excuse  of  the  Sergeant  being  in  my 
room,  composing  his  mind.  I  told  him  exactly  what  had 
happened,  mentioning  particularly  what  my  lady's  maid  and 
the  house-maid  had  said  about  Rosanna  Spearman. 

Mr.  Franklin's  clear  head  saw  the  turn  the  Sergeant's  sus- 
picions had  taken,  in  the  twinkling  of  an  eye. 

"Didn't  you  tell  me  this  morning,"  he  said,  "that  one  of 
the  trades-people  declared  he  had  met  Rosanna  yesterday,  on 

132 


THE  MOONSTONE 

the  foot-way  to  Frizinghall,  when  we  supposed  her  to  be  ill 
in  her  room?" 

"Yes,  sir." 

"If  my  aunt's  maid  and  the  other  woman  have  spoken  the 
truth,  you  may  depend  upon  it  the  tradesman  did  meet  her. 
The  girl's  attack  of  illness  was  a  blind  to  deceive  us.  She 
had  some  guilty  reason  for  going  to  the  town  secretly.  The 
paint-stained  dress  is  a  dress  of  hers ;  and  the  fire  heard  crack- 
ling in  her  room  at  four  in  the  morning  was  a  fire  lit  to  de- 
stroy it.  Rosanna  Spearman  has  stolen  the  Diamond.  I'll 
go  in  directly,  and  tell  my  aunt  the  turn  things  have  taken." 

"Not  just  yet,  if  you  please,  sir,"  said  a  melancholy  voice 
behind  us. 

We  both  turned  about,  and  found  ourselves  face  to  face 
with  Sergeant  Cuff. 

"Why  not  just  yet?"  asked  Mr.  Franklin. 

"Because,  sir,  if  you  tell  her  ladyship,  her  ladyship  will  tell 
Miss  Verinder." 

"Suppose  she  does.  What  then?"  Mr.  Franklin  said  those 
words  with  a  sudden  heat  and  vehemence,  as  if  the  Sergeant 
had  mortally  offended  him. 

"Do  you  think  it's  wise,  sir,"  said  Sergeant  Cuff,  quietly, 
"to  put  such  a  question  as  that  to  me — at  such  a  time  as  this  ?" 

There  was  a  moment's  silence  between  them :  Mr.  Frank- 
lin walked  close  up  to  the  Sergeant.  The  two  looked  each 
other  straight  in  the  face.  Mr.  Franklin  spoke  first;  drop- 
ping his  voice  as  suddenly  as  he  had  raised  it. 

"I  suppose  you  know,  Mr.  Cuff,"  he  said,  "that  you  are 
treading  on  delicate  ground?" 

"It  isn't  the  first  time,  by  a  good  many  hvmdreds,  that  I 
find  myself  treading  on  delicate  ground,"  answered  the  other, 
just  as  immovable  as  ever. 

"I  am  to  understand  that  you  forbid  me  to  tell  my  aunt 
what  has  happened  ?" 

"You  are  to  understand,  if  you  please,  sir,  that  I  throw  up 
the  case,  if  you  tell  Lady  Verinder,  or  tell  any  body,  what 
has  happened  until  I  give  you  leave." 

That  settled  it.  Mr.  Franklin  had  no  choice  but  to  submit. 
He  turned  away  in  anger,  and  left  us. 

^33 


THE  MOONSTONE 

I  had  stood  there  listening  to  them,  all  in  a  tremble ;  not 
knowing  whom  to  suspect,  or  what  to  think  next.  In  the 
midst  of  my  confusion,  two  things,  however,  were  plain  to 
me.  First,  that  my  young  lady  was,  in  some  unaccountable 
manner,  at  the  bottom  of  the  sharp  speeches  that  had  passed 
between  them.  Second,  that  they  thoroughly  understood  each 
other  without  having  previously  exchanged  a  word  of  expla- 
nation on  either  side. 

"Mr.  Betteredge,"  said  the  Sergeant,  "you  have  done  a  very 
foolish  thing  in  my  absence.  You  have  done  a  Httle  detective 
business  on  your  own  account.  For  the  future,  perhaps  you 
will  be  so  obliging  as  to  do  your  detective  business  along 
with  me." 

He  took  me  by  the  arm  and  walked  me  away  with  him 
along  the  road  by  which  he  had  come.  I  dare  say  I  had  de- 
served his  reproof — but  I  was  not  going  to  help  him  to  set 
traps  for  Rosanna  Spearman  for  all  that.  Thief  or  no  thief, 
legal  or  not  legal,  I  don't  care — I  pitied  her. 

"What  do  you  want  of  me  ?"  I  asked,  shaking  him  ofif,  and 
stopping  short. 

"Only  a  little  information  about  the  country  round  here," 
said  the  Sergeant. 

I  couldn't  well  object  to  improve  Sergeant  Cuff  in  his  geog- 
raphy. 

"Is  there  any  path,  in  that  direction,  leading  from  the  sea- 
beach  to  this  house?"  asked  the  Sergeant.  He  pointed,  as 
he  spoke,  to  the  fir-plantation  which  led  to  the  Shivering 
Sand. 

"Yes,"  I  said ;  "there  is  a  path." 

"Show  it  to  me." 

Side  by  side,  in  the  gray  of  the  summer  evening.  Sergeant 
Cuff  and  I  set  forth  for  the  Shivering  Sand. 


CHAPTER  XV. 

THE  Sergeant  remained  silent,  thinking  his  own  thoughts, 
till  we  entered  the  plantation  of  firs  which  led  to  the 
quicksand.  There  he  roused  himself,  like  a  man  whose  mind 
was  made  up,  and  spoke  to  me  again. 

134 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Mr,  Betteredge,"  he  said,  "as  you  have  honored  me  by 
taking  an  oar  in  my  boat,  and  as  you  may,  I  think,  be  of 
some  assistance  to  me  before  the  evening  is  out,  I  see  no  use 
in  our  mystifying  one  another  any  longer,  and  I  propose  to 
set  you  an  example  of  plain-speaking  on  my  side.  You  are 
determined  to  give  me  no  information  to  the  prejudice  of 
Rosanna  Spearman,  because  she  has  been  a  good  girl  to  you, 
and  because  you  pity  her  heartily.  Those  humane  considera- 
tions do  you  a  world  of  credit,  but  they  happen  in  this  instance 
to  be  humane  considerations  clean  thrown  away.  Rosanna 
Spearman  is  not  in  the  slightest  danger  of  getting  into  trouble 
— no,  not  if  I  fix  her  with  being  concerned  in  the  disappear- 
ance of  the  Diamond,  on  evidence  which  is  as  plain  as  the 
nose  on  your  face !" 

"Do  you  mean  that  my  lady  won't  prosecute?"  I  asked. 

"I  mean  that  your  lady  can't  prosecute,"  said  the  Sergeant. 
"Rosanna  Spearman  is  simply  an  instrument  in  the  hands  of 
another  person  and  Rosanna  Spearman  will  be  held  harm- 
less for  that  other  person's  sake." 

He  spoke  like  a  man  in  earnest — there  was  no  denying 
that.  Still,  I  felt  something  stirring  uneasily  against  him 
in  my  mind.  "Can't  you  give  that  other  person  a  name?" 
I  said. 

"Can't  you,  Mr.  Betteredge?" 

"No." 

Sergeant  Cufif  stood  stock-still,  and  surveyed  me  with  a 
look  of  melancholy  interest. 

"It's  always  a  pleasure  to  me  to  be  tender  toward  human 
infirmity,"  he  said.  "I  feel  particularly  tender  at  the  present 
moment,  Mr.  Betteredge,  toward  you.  And  you,  with  the 
same  excellent  motive,  feel  particularly  tender  toward  Ro- 
sanna Spearman,  don't  you  ?  Do  you  happen  to  know  whether 
she  has  had  a  new  outfit  of  linen  lately?" 

What  he  meant  by  slipping  in  this  extraordinary  question 
unawares  I  was  at  a  total  loss  to  imagine.  Seeing  no  pos- 
sible injury  to  Rosanna  if  I  owned  the  truth,  T  answered  that 
the  girl  had  come  to  us  rather  sparely  provided  with  linen, 
and  that  my  lady,  in  recompense  for  her  good  conduct,  I  laid 
a  stress  on  her  good  conduct,  had  given  her  a  new  outfit  not 
a  fortnight  since. 

135 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"This  is  a  miserable  world,"  says  the  Sergeant.  "Human 
life,  Mr.  Betteredge,  is  a  sort  of  target — misfortune  is  always 
firing  at  it  and  always  hitting  the  mark.  But  for  that  outfit 
we  should  have  discovered  a  new  night-gown  or  petticoat 
among  Rosanna's  things,  and  have  nailed  her  in  that  way. 
You're  not  at  a  loss  to  follow  me,  are  you  ?  You  have  exam- 
ined the  servants  yourself  and  you  know  what  discoveries 
two  of  them  made  outside  Rosanna's  door.  Surely  you  know 
what  the  girl  was  about  yesterday,  after  she  was  taken  ill? 
You  can't  guess?  Oh,  dear  me,  it's  as  plain  as  that  strip  of 
light  there  at  the  end  of  the  trees.  At  eleven,  on  Thursday 
morning,  Superintendent  Seegrave,  who  is  a  mass  of  human 
infirmity,  points  out  to  all  the  women  servants  the  smear  on 
the  door.  Rosanna  has  her  own  reasons  for  suspecting  her 
own  things ;  she  takes  the  first  opportunity  of  getting  to  her 
room,  finds  the  paint  stain  on  her  night-gown,  or  petticoat, 
or  what  not,  shams  ill,  and  slips  away  to  the  town,  gets  the 
materials  for  making  a  new  petticoat  or  night-gown,  makes 
it  alone  in  her  room  on  the  Thursday  night,  lights  a  fire — not 
to  destroy  it ;  two  of  her  fellow-servants  are  prying  outside 
her  door,  and  she  knows  better  than  to  make  a  smell  of  burn- 
ing, and  to  have  a  lot  of  tinder  to  get  rid  of — lights  a  fire,  I 
say,  to  dry  and  iron  the  substitute  dress  after  wringing  it  out, 
keeps  the  stained  dress  hidden,  probably  on  her,  and  is  at  this 
moment  occupied  in  making  away  with  it,  in  some  convenient 
place,  on  that  lonely  bit  of  beach  ahead  of  us.  I  have  traced 
her  this  evening  to  your  fishing  village  and  to  one  particular 
cottage  which  we  may  possibly  have  to  visit  before  we  go 
back.  She  stopped  in  the  cottage  for  some  time,  and  she 
came  out  with,  as  I  believe,  something  hidden  under  her  cloak. 
A  cloak,  on  a  woman's  back,  is  an  emblem  of  charity — it 
covers  a  multitude  of  sins.  I  saw  her  set  off  northward  along 
the  coast,  after  leaving  the  cottage.  Is  your  sea-shore  here 
considered  a  fine  specimen  of  marine  landscape,  Mr.  Better- 
edge?" 

I  answered  "Yes,"  as  shortly  as  might  be. 

"Tastes  differ,"  says  Sergeant  Cuff.  "Looking  at  it  from 
my  point  of  view,  I  never  saw  a  marine  landscape  that  I 
admired  less.  If  you  happen  to  be  following  another  person 
along  your  sea-coast,    and  if  that  person  happens  to  look 

136 


THE  MOONSTONE 

round,  there  isn't  a  scrap  of  cover  to  hide  you  anywhere.  I 
had  to  choose  between  taking  Rosanna  in  custody  on  sus- 
picion, or  leaving  her,  for  the  time  being,  with  her  Httle 
game  in  her  own  hands.  For  reasons,  which  I  won't  trouble 
you  with,  I  decided  on  making  any  sacrifice  rather  than  give 
the  alarm  as  soon  as  to-night  to  a  certain  person  who  shall 
be  nameless  between  us.  I  came  back  to  the  house  to  ask 
you  to  take  me  to  the  north  end  of  the  beach  by  another  way. 
Sand — in  respect  of  its  printing  ofif  people's  footsteps — is  one 
of  the  best  detective  officers  I  know.  If  we  don't  meet  with 
Rosanna  Spearman  by  coming  round  on  her  this  way,  the 
sand  may  tell  us  what  she  has  been  at,  if  the  light  only  lasts 
long  enough.  Here  is  the  sand.  If  you  will  excuse  my  sug- 
gesting it — suppose  you  hold  your  tongue,  and  let  me  go 
first?" 

If  there  is  such  a  thing  known  at  the  doctor's  shop  as  a 
detective  fever,  that  disease  had  now  got  fast  hold  of  your 
humble  servant.  Sergeant  Cufif  went  on  between  the  hillocks 
of  sand,  down  to  the  beach.  I  followed  him,  with  my  heart 
in  my  mouth ;  and  waited  at  a  little  distance  for  what  was  to 
happen  next. 

As  it  turned  out,  I  found  myself  standing  nearly  in  the 
same  place  where  Rosanna  Spearman  and  I  had  been  talking 
together  when  Mr.  Franklin  suddenly  appeared  before  us, 
on  arriving  at  our  house  from  London.  While  my  eyes  were 
watching  the  Sergeant,  my  mind  wandered  away  in  spite  of 
me  to  what  had  passed  on  that  former  occasion  between  Ro- 
sanna and  me.  I  declare  I  almost  felt  the  poor  thing  slip  her 
hand  again  into  mine,  and  give  it  a  little  grateful  squeeze  to 
thank  me  for  speaking  kindly  to  her.  I  declare  I  almost 
heard  her  voice  telling  me  again  that  the  Shivering  Sand 
seemed  to  draw  her  to  it,  against  her  own  will,  whenever  she 
went  out — almost  saw  her  face  brighten  again,  as  it  bright- 
ened when  she  first  set  eyes  upon  Mr.  Franklin  coming  briskly 
out  on  us  from  among  the  hillocks.  My  spirits  fell  lower 
and  lower  as  I  thought  of  these  things — and  the  view  of  the 
lonesome  little  bay,  when  I  looked  about  to  rouse  myself, 
only  served  to  make  me  feel  more  uneasy  still. 

The  l^st  of  the  evening  light  was  fading  away ;  and  over 
all  the  desolate  place  there  hung  a  still  and  awful  calm.    The 

137 


THE  MOONSTONE 

heave  of  the  main  ocean  on  the  great  sand-bank  out  in  the 
bay,  was  a  heave  that  made  no  sound.  The  inner  sea  lay  lost 
and  dim,  without  a  breath  of  wind  to  stir  it.  Patches  of  nasty 
ooze  floated,  yellow-white,  on  the  dead  surface  of  the  water. 
Scum  and  slime  shone  faintly  in  certain  places,  where  the  last 
of  the  light  still  caught  them  on  the  two  great  spits  of  rock 
jutting  out,  north  and  south,  into  the  sea.  It  was  now  the 
time  of  the  turn  of  the  tide ;  and  even  as  I  stood  there  wait- 
ing, the  broad  brown  face  of  the  quicksand  began  to  dimple 
and  quiver — the  only  moving  thing  in  all  the  horrid  place. 

I  saw  the  Sergeant  start  as  the  shiver  of  the  sand  caught 
his  eye.  After  looking  at  it  for  a  minute  or  so  he  turned  and 
came  back  to  me. 

"A  treacherous  place,  Mr.  Betteredge,"  he  said ;  "and  no 
signs  of  Rosanna  Spearman  anywhere  on  the  beach,  look 
where  you  may." 

He  took  me  down  lower  on  the  shore,  and  I  saw  for  my- 
self that  his  footsteps  and  mine  were  the  only  footsteps  printed 
off  on  the  sand. 

"How  does  the  fishing  village  bear,  standing  where  we  are 
now?"  asked  Sergeant  Cuff. 

"Cobb's  Hole,"  I  answered,  that  being  the  name  of  the 
place,  "bears  as  near  as  may  be  due  south." 

"I  saw  the  girl  this  evening,  w^alking  northward  along  the 
shore,  from  Cobb's  Hole,"  said  the  Sergeant.  "Consequently, 
she  must  have  been  walking  toward  this  place.  Is  Cobb's 
Hole  on  the  other  side  of  that  point  of  land  there?  And  can 
we  get  to  it — now  it's  low  water — by  the  beach  ?" 

I  answered  "Yes"  to  both  those  questions. 

"If  you'll  excuse  my  suggesting  it,  we'll  step  out  briskly," 
says  the  Sergeant.  "I  want  to  find  the  place  where  she  left 
the  shore  before  it  gets  dark." 

We  had  walked,  I  should  say,  a  couple  of  hundred  yards 
toward  Cobb's  Hole,  when  Sergeant  Cuff  suddenly  went 
down  on  his  knees  on  the  beach,  to  all  appearance  seized  with 
a  sudden  frenzy  for  saying  his  prayers. 

"There's  something  to  be  said  for  your  marine  landscape 
here,  after  all,"  remarked  the  Sergeant.  "Here  are  a  woman's 
footsteps,  Mr.  Betteredge !  Let  us  call  them  Rosanna's  foot- 
steps, until  we  find  evidence  to  the  contrary  that  w^e  can't 

'''     X 


\^ 


^i 


THE  MOONSTONE 

resist.  Very  confused  footsteps,  you  will  please  to  observe — 
purposely  confused,  I  should  say.  Ah,  poor  soul,  she  under- 
stands the  detective  virtues  of  sand  as  well  as  I  do !  But 
hasn't  she  been  in  rather  too  great  a  hurry  to  tread  out  the 
marks  thoroughly?  I  think  she  has.  Here's  one  footstep 
going  from  Cobb's  Hole ;  and  here  is  another  going  back  to 
it.  Isn't  that  the  toe  of  her  shoe  pointing  straight  to  the 
water's  edge  ?  And  don't  I  see  two  heel-marks  farther  down 
the  beach,  close  at  the  water's  edge  also?  I  don't  want  to 
hurt  your  feelings,  but  I'm  afraid  Rosanna  is  sly.  It  looks 
as  if  she  had  determined  to  get  to  that  place  you  and  I  have 
just  come  from,  without  leaving  any  marks  on  the  sand  to 
trace  her  by.  Shall  we  say  that  she  walked  through  the  water 
from  this  point  till  she  got  to  that  ledge  of  rocks  behind  us, 
and  came  back  the  same  way,  and  then  took  to  the  beach  again 
where  those  two  heel-marks  are  still  left?  Yes,  we'll  say  that. 
It  seems  to  fit  in  with  my  notion  that  she  had  something  under 
her  cloak  when  she  left  the  cottage.  No !  not  something  to 
destroy — for,  in  that  case,  where  would  have  been  the  need 
of  all  these  precautions  to  prevent  my  tracing  the  place  at 
which  her  walk  ended?  Something  to  hide  is,  I  think,  the 
better  guess  of  the  two.  Perhaps,  if  we  go  on  to  the  cottage, 
we  may  find  out  what  that  something  is !" 

At  this  proposal  my  detective  fever  suddenly  cooled.  "You 
don't  want  me,"  I  said.     "What  good  can  I  do?" 

"The  longer  I  know  you,  Mr.  Betteredge,"  said  the  Ser- 
geant, "the  more  virtues  I  discover.  Modesty — oh,  dear  me, 
how  rare  modesty  is  in  this  world !  and  how  much  of  that 
rarity  you  possess !  If  I  go  alone  to  the  cottage  the  people's 
tongues  will  be  tied  at  the  first  question  I  put  to  them.  If  I 
go  with  you  I  go  introduced  by  a  justly  respected  neighbor, 
and  a  flow  of  conversation  is  the  necessary  result.  It  strikes 
me  in  that  light ;  how  does  it  strike  you  ?" 

Not  having  an  answer  of  the  needful  smartness  as  ready 
as  I  could  have  wished,  I  tried  to  gain  time  by  asking  him 
what  cottage  he  wanted  to  go  to. 

On  the  Sergeant  describing  the  place,  T  recognized  it  as 
a  cottage  inhabited  by  a  fisherman  named  Yolland,  with  his 
wife  and  two  grown-up  children,  a  son  and  a  daughter.  If 
you  will  look  back,  you  will  find  that,  in  first  presenting  Ro- 

139 


THE  MOONSTONE 

sanna  Spearman  to  your  notice,  I  have  described  her  as  occa- 
sionally varying  her  walk  to  the  Shivering  Sand  by  a  visit 
to  some  friends  of  hers  at  Cobb's  Hole.  Those  friends  were 
the  Yollands — respectable,  worthy  people,  a  credit  to  the 
neighborhood.  Rosanna's  acquaintance  with  them  had  begun 
by  means  of  the  daughter,  who  was  afflicted  with  a  misshapen 
foot,  and  who  was  known  in  our  parts  by  the  name  of  Limp- 
ing Lucy.  The  two  deformed  girls  had,  I  suppose,  a  kind  of 
fellow-feeling  for  each  other.  Any  way,  the  Yollands  and 
Rosanna  always  appeared  to  get  on  together,  at  the  few 
chances  they  had  of  meeting,  in  a  pleasant  and  friendly  man- 
ner. The  fact  of  Sergeant  Cuff  having  traced  the  girl  to  their 
cottage  set  the  matter  of  my  helping  his  inquiries  in  quite  a 
new  light.  Rosanna  had  merely  gone  where  she  was  in  the 
habit  of  going;  and  to  show  that  she  had  been  in  company 
with  the  fisherman  and  his  family  was  as  good  as  to  prove 
that  she  had  been  innocently  occupied,  so  far,  at  any  rate. 
It  would  be  doing  that  girl  a  service,  therefore,  instead  of 
an  injury,  if  I  allowed  myself  to  be  convinced  by  Sergeant 
Cuff's  logic.     I  professed  myself  convinced  by  it  accordingly. 

We  went  on  to  Cobb's  Hole,  seeing  the  footsteps  on  the 
sand  as  long  as  the  light  lasted. 

On  reaching  the  cottage,  the  fisherman  and  his  son  proved 
to  be  out  in  the  boat ;  and  Limping  Lucy,  always  weak  and 
weary,  was  resting  on  her  bed  up  stairs.  Good  Mrs.  Yolland 
received  us  alone  in  her  kitchen.  When  she  heard  that  Ser- 
geant Cuff  was  a  celebrated  character  in  London,  she  clapped 
a  bottle  of  Dutch  gin  and  a  couple  of  clean  pipes  on  the  table, 
and  stared  as  if  she  could  never  see  enough  of  him. 

I  sat  quiet  in  a  corner,  waiting  to  hear  how  the  Sergeant 
would  find  his  way  to  the  subject  of  Rosanna  Spearman.  His 
usual  roundabout  manner  of  going  to  work  proved,  on  this 
occasion,  to  be  more  roundabout  than  ever.  How  he  man- 
aged it  is  more  than  I  could  tell  at  the  time,  and  more  than 
I  can  tell  now.  But  this  is  certain,  he  began  with  the  Royal 
Family,  the  Primitive  Methodists,  and  the  price  of  fish ;  and 
he  got  from  that  (in  his  dismal,  under-ground  way)  to  the 
loss  of  the  Moonstone,  the  spitefulness  of  our  first  house- 
maid, and  the  hard  behavior  of  the  women-servants  generally 
toward  Rosanna  Spearman.     Having  reached  his  subject  in 

140 


THE  MOONSTONE 

this  fashion,  he  described  himself  as  making  his  inquiries 
about  the  lost  Diamond  partly  with  a  view  to  find  it,  and 
partly  for  the  purpose  of  clearing  Rosanna  from  the  unjust 
suspicions  of  her  enemies  in  the  house.  In  about  a  quarter 
of  an  hour  from  the  time  when  we  entered  the  kitchen  good 
Mrs.  Yolland  was  persuaded  that  she  was  talking  to  Ro- 
sanna's  best  friend,  and  was  pressing  Sergeant  Cuff  to  com- 
fort his  stomach  and  revive  his  spirits  out  of  the  Dutch  bottle. 

Being  firmly  persuaded  that  the  Sergeant  was  wasting  his 
breath  to  no  purpose  on  Mrs.  Yolland,  I  sat  enjoying  the  talk 
between  them,  much  as  I  have  sat,  in  my  time,  enjoying  a 
stage  play.  The  great  Cuff  showed  a  wonderful  patience ; 
trying  his  luck  drearily  this  way  and  that  way,  and  firing 
shot  after  shot,  as  it  were,  at  random,  on  the  chance  of  hitting 
the  mark.  Every  thing  to  Rosanna's  credit,  nothing  to  Ro- 
sanna's  prejudice — that  was  how  it  ended,  try  as  he  might; 
with  Mrs.  Yolland  talking  nineteen  to  the  dozen,  and  placing 
the  most  entire  confidence  in  him.  His  last  effort  was  made, 
when  we  had  looked  at  our  watches,  and  had  got  on  our  legs 
previous  to  taking  leave. 

"1  shall  now  wish  you  good-night,  ma'am,"  says  the  Ser- 
geant. "And  I  shall  only  say,  at  parting,  that  Rosanna  Spear- 
man has  a  sincere  well-wisher  in  myself,  your  obedient  ser- 
vant. But,  oh  dear  me !  she  will  never  get  on  in  her  present 
place :  and  my  advice  to  her  is — leave  it." 

"Bless  your  heart  alive !  she  is  going  to  leave  it !"  cries 
Mrs.  Yolland.  (Nota  bene:  I  translate  Mrs.  Yolland  out  of 
the  Yorkshire  language  into  the  English  language.  When 
I  tell  you  that  the  all-accomplished  Cuff  was  every  now  and 
then  puzzled  to  understand  her  until  I  helped  him,  you  will 
draw  your  own  conclusions  as  to  what  your  state  of  mind 
would  be  if  I  reported  her  in  her  native  tongue.) 

Rosanna  Spearman  going  to  leave  us !  I  pricked  up  my 
ears  at  that.  It  seemed  strange,  to  say  the  least  of  it,  that 
she  should  have  given  no  warning,  in  the  first  place,  to  my 
lady  or  to  me.  A  certain  doubt  came  up  in  my  mind  whether 
Sergeant  Cuff's  last  random  shot  might  not  have  hit  the  mark. 
I  began  to  question  whether  my  share  in  the  proceedings  was 
quite  as  harmless  a  one  as  I  had  thought  it.  It  might  be  all 
jn  the  way  of  the  Sergeant's  business  to  mystify  an  honest 

141 


THE  MOONSTONE 

woman  by  wrapping  her  round  in  a  net-work  of  lies;  but  it 
was  my  duty  to  have  remembered,  as  a  good  Protestant,  that 
the  father  of  Ues  is  the  Devil — and  that  mischief  and  the 
Devil  are  never  far  apart.  Beginning  to  smell  mischief  in  the 
air,  I  tried  to  take  Sergeant  Cuff  out.  He  sat  down  again 
instantly,  and  asked  for  a  last  little  drop  of  comfort  out  of 
the  Dutch  bottle.  Mrs.  Yolland  sat  down  opposite  to  him, 
and  gave  him  his  nip.  I  went  on  to  the  door,  excessively 
uncomfortable,  and  said  I  thought  I  must  bid  them  good- 
night— and  yet  I  didn't  go. 

"So  she  means  to  leave?"  says  the  Sergeant.  "What  is 
she  to  do  when  she  does  leave  ?  Sad,  sad !  The  poor  crea- 
ture has  got  no  friends  in  the  world  except  you  and  me." 

"Ah,  but  she  has  though !"  says  Mrs.  Yolland.  "She  came 
in  here,  as  I  told  you,  this  evening ;  and,  after  sitting  and 
talking  a  little  with  my  girl  Lucy  and  me,  she  asked  to  go 
up  stairs  by  herself  into  Lucy's  room.  It's  the  only  room 
in  our  place  where  there's  pen  and  ink.  T  want  to  write  a 
letter  to  a  friend,'  she  says,  'and  I  can't  do  it  for  the  prying 
and  the  peeping  of  the  servants  up  at  the  house.'  Who  the 
letter  was  written  to  I  can't  tell  you :  it  must  have  been  a 
mortal  long  one,  judging  by  the  time  she  stopped  up  stairs 
over  it.  I  ofifered  her  a  postage  stamp  when  she  came  down. 
She  hadn't  got  the  letter  in  her  hand,  and  she  didn't  accept 
the  stamp.  A  little  close,  poor  soul  (as  you  know),  about 
herself  and  her  doings.  But  a  friend  she  has  got  somewhere, 
I  can  tell  you ;  and  to  that  friend,  you  may  depend  upon  it, 
she  will  go." 

"Soon  ?"  asked  the  Sergeant. 

"As  soon  as  she  can,"  says  Mrs.  Yolland. 

Here  I  stepped  in  again  from  the  door.  As  chief  of  my 
lady's  establishment  I  couldn't  allow  this  sort  of  loose  talk 
about  a  servant  of  ours  going  or  not  going  to  proceed  any 
longer  in  my  presence  without  noticing  it. 

"You  must  be  mistaken  about  Rosanna  Spearman,"  I  said. 
"If  she  had  been  going  to  leave  her  present  situation  she 
would  have  mentioned  it,  in  the  first  place,  to  me." 

"Mistaken?"  cries  Mrs.  Yolland.  "Why.  only  an  hour 
ago  she  bought  some  things  she  wanted  for  traveling — of 
my  own  self,  Mr.  Betteredge,  in  this  very  room.     And  that 

142 


THE  MOONSTONE 

reminds  me,"  says  the  wearisome  woman,  suddenly  begin- 
ning to  feel  in  her  pocket,  "of  something  I've  got  it  on  my 
mind  to  say  about  Rosanna  and  her  money.  Are  you  either 
of  you  likely  to  see  her  when  you  go  back  to  the  house?" 

"I'll  take  a  message  to  the  poor  thing,  with  the  greatest 
pleasure,"  answered  Sergeant  Cuff,  before  I  could  put  in  a 
word  edgewise. 

Mrs.  Yolland  produced  out  of  her  pocket  a  few  shillings 
and  sixpences,  and  counted  them  out  with  a  most  particular 
and  exasperating  carefulness  in  the  palm  of  her  hand.  She 
offered  the  money  to  the  Sergeant,  looking  mighty  loath  to 
part  with  it  all  the  while. 

"Might  I  ask  you  to  give  this  back  to  Rosanna,  with  my 
love  and  respects?"  says  Mrs.  Yolland.  "She  insisted  on 
paying  me  for  the  one  or  two  things  she  took  a  fancy  to  this 
evening — and  money's  welcome  enough  in  our  house,  I  don't 
deny  it.  Still,  I'm  not  easy  in  my  mind  about  taking  the  poor 
thing's  little  savings.  And  to  tell  you  the  truth,  I  don't  think 
my  man  would  like  to  hear  that  I  had  taken  Rosanna  Spear- 
man's money  when  he  comes  back  to-morrow  morning  from 
his  work.  Please  say  she's  heartily  welcome  to  the  things 
she  bought  of  me — as  a  gift.  And  don't  leave  the  money 
on  the  table,"  says  Mrs  Yolland,  putting  it  down  sud- 
denly before  the  Sergeant,  as  if  it  burned  her  fingers — 
"don't,  there's  a  good  man !  For  times  are  hard,  and  flesh  is 
weak ;  and  I  might  feel  tempted  to  put  it  back  in  my  pocket 
again." 

"Come  along !"  I  said.  "I  can't  wait  any  longer :  I  must 
go  back  to  the  house." 

"I'll  follow  you  directly,"  says  Sergeant  Cuff. 

For  the  second  time  I  went  to  the  door ;  and  for  the  second 
time,  try  as  I  might,  I  couldn't  cross  the  threshold. 

"It's  a  delicate  matter,  ma'am,"  I  heard  the  Sergeant  say, 
"giving  money  back.  You  charged  her  cheap  for  the  things, 
I'm  sure?" 

"Cheap!"  said  Mrs.  Yolland.  "Come  and  judge  for  vour- 
self." 

She  took  up  the  candle  and  led  the  Sergeant  to  a  corner 
of  the  kitchen.  For  the  life  of  me  I  couldn't  help  following 
them.     Shaken  down  in  the  corner  was  a  heap  of  odds  and 

143 


THE  MOONSTONE 

ends  (mostly  old  metal)  which  the  fisherman  had  picked  up 
at  different  times  from  wrecked  ships,  and  which  he  hadn't 
found  a  market  for  yet  to  his  own  mind.  Mrs.  Yolland  dived 
into  this  rubbish,  and  brought  up  an  old  japanned  tin  case, 
with  a  cover  to  it,  and  a  hasp  to  hang  it  up  by — the  sort  of 
thing  they  use  on  board  ship  for  keeping  their  maps  and 
charts,  and  such  like,  from  the  wet. 

"There !"  says  she.  "When  Rosanna  came  in  this  evening, 
she  bought  the  fellow  to  that.  'It  will  just  do,'  she  says, 
'to  put  my  cuffs  and  collars  in,  and  keep  them  from  being 
crumpled  in  my  box.'  One-and-ninepence,  Mr.  Cuff.  As  I 
live  by  bread,  not  a  half-penny  more !" 

"Dirt  cheap !"  says  the  Sergeant,  with  a  heavy  sigh. 

He  weighed  the  case  in  his  hand.  I  thought  I  heard  a 
note  or  two  of  The  Last  Rose  of  Summer  as  he  looked  at  it. 
There  was  no  doubt  now !  He  had  made  another  discovery 
to  the  prejudice  of  Rosanna  Spearman  in  the  place  of  all 
others  where  I  thought  her  character  was  safest,  and  all 
through  me !  I  leave  you  to  imagine  what  I  felt,  and  how 
sincerely  I  repented  having  been  the  medium  of  introduction 
between  Mrs.  Yolland  and  Sergeant  Cuff. 

"That  will  do,"  I  said.     "We  really  must  go." 

Without  paying  the  least  attention  to  me,  Mrs.  Yolland 
took  another  dive  into  the  rubbish,  and  came  up  out  of  it, 
this  time,  with  a  dog  chain. 

"Weigh  it  in  your  hand,  sir,"  she  said,  to  the  Sergeant. 
"We  had  three  of  these ;  and  Rosanna  has  taken  two  of 
them.  'What  can  you  want,  my  dear,  with  a  couple  of  dog's 
chains?'  says  I.  'If  I  join  them  together  they'll  go  round 
my  box  nicely,'  says  she.  'Rope's  cheapest,'  says  I.  'Chain's 
surest,'  says  she.  'Who  ever  heard  of  a  box  corded  with 
chain?'  says  I.  'Oh,  Mrs.  Yolland,  don't  make  objections!' 
says  she ;  'let  me  have  my  chains !'  A  strange  girl,  Mr.  Cuff 
— good  as  gold,  and  kinder  than  a  sister  to  my  Lucy — but 
always  a  little  strange.  There !  I  humored  her.  Three-and- 
sixpence.  On  the  word  of  an  honest  woman,  three  and  six- 
pence, Mr.  Cuff!" 

"Each?"  says  the  Sergeant. 

"Both  together !"  says  Mrs.  Yolland.  "Three-and-sixpence 
for  the  two." 

144 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Given  away,  ma'am,"  says  the  Sergeant,  shaking  his  head. 
"Clean  given  away !" 

"There's  the  money,"  says  Mrs.  Yolland,  getting  back  side- 
ways to  the  httle  heap  of  silver  on  the  table,  as  if  it  drew 
her  in  spite  of  herself.  "The  tin  case  and  the  dog  chains 
were  all  she  bought,  and  all  she  took  away.  One-and-nine- 
pence  and  three-and-sixpence — total,  five  and  three.  With  my 
love  and  respects — and  I  can't  find  it  in  my  conscience  to  take 
a  poor  girl's  savings,  when  she  may  want  them  herself." 

"I  can't  find  it  in  my  conscience,  ma'am,  to  give  the  money 
back,"  says  Sergeant  Cuff.  "You  have  as  good  as  made  her 
a  present  of  the  things — you  have  indeed," 

"Is  that  your  sincere  opinion,  sir?"  says  Mrs.  Yolland, 
brightening  up  wonderfully. 

"There  can't  be  a  doubt  about  it,"  answered  the  Sergeant. 
"Ask  Mr.  Betteredge." 

It  was  no  use  asking  me.  All  they  got  out  of  me  was, 
"Good-night." 

"Bother  the  money !"  says  Mrs.  Yolland.  With  those 
words  she  appeared  to  lose  all  command  over  herself;  and 
making  a  sudden  snatch  at  the  heap  of  silver,  put  it  back, 
holus-bolus,  in  her  pocket.  "It  upsets  one's  temper,  it  does, 
to  see  it  lying  there,  and  nobody  taking  it,"  cries  this  un- 
reasonable woman,  sitting  down  with  a  thump,  and  looking  at 
Sergeant  CuiT,  as  much  as  to  say,  "It's  in  my  pocket  again 
now — get  it  out  if  you  can !" 

This  time  I  not  only  went  to  the  door  but  went  fairly  out 
on  the  road  back.  Explain  it  how  you  may,  I  felt  as  if  one 
or  both  of  them  had  mortally  offended  me.  Before  I  had 
taken  three  steps  down  the  village  I  heard  the  Sergeant  be- 
hind me. 

"Thank  you  for  your  introduction,  Mr.  Betteredge,"  he 
said.  "I  am  indebted  to  the  fisherman's  wife  for  an  entirely 
new  sensation.     Mrs.  Yolland  has  puzzled  me." 

It  was  on  the  tip  of  my  tongue  to  have  given  him  a  sharp 
answer,  for  no  better  reason  than  this — that  I  was  out  of 
temper  with  him,  because  I  was  out  of  temper  with  myself. 
But  when  he  owned  to  being  puzzled,  a  comforting  doubt 
crossed  my  mind  whether  any  great  harm  had  been  done  after 
all.    T  waited  in  discreet  silence  to  hear  more. 

''  145 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Yes,"  says  the  Sergeant,  as  if  he  was  actually  reading 
my  thoughts  in  the  dark.  "Instead  of  putting  me  on  the 
scent,  it  may  console  you  to  know,  Mr.  Betteredge  (with  your 
interest  in  Rosanna),  that  you  have  been  the  means  of  throw- 
ing me  off.  What  the  girl  has  done  to-night  is  clear  enough, 
of  course.  She  has  joined  the  two  chains,  and  has  fastened 
them  to  the  hasp  in  the  tin  case.  She  has  sunk  the  case  in 
the  water  or  in  the  quicksand.  She  has  made  the  loose  end 
of  the  chain  fast  to  some  place  under  the  rocks,  known  only 
to  herself.  And  she  will  leave  the  case  secure  at  its  anchorage 
till  the  present  proceedings  have  come  to  an  end ;  after  which 
she  can  privately  pull  it  up  again  out  of  its  hiding-place,  at 
her  own  leisure  and  convenience.  All  perfectly  plain  so  far. 
But,"  says  the  Sergeant,  with  the  first  tone  of  impatience  in 
his  voice  that  I  had  heard  yet,  "the  mystery  is — what  the 
devil  has  she  hidden  in  the  tin  case?" 

I  thought  to  myself,  "The  Moonstone !"  But  I  only  said 
to  Sergeant  Cuff,  "Can't  you  guess  ?" 

"It's  not  the  Diamond,"  says  the  Sergeant.  "The  whole 
experience  of  my  life  is  at  fault  if  Rosanna  Spearman  has  got 
the  Diamond." 

On  hearing  those  words  the  infernal  detective  fever  be- 
gan, I  suppose,  to  burn  in  me  again.  At  any  rate,  I  forgot 
myself  in  the  interest  of  guessing  this  new  riddle.  I  said 
rashly,  "The  stained  dress !" 

Sergeant  Cuff  stopped  short  in  the  dark,  and  laid  his  hand 
on  my  arm. 

"Is  any  thing  thrown  into  that  quicksand  of  yours  ever 
thrown  up  on  the  surface  again  ?"  he  asked. 

"Never,"  I  answered.  "Light  or  heavy,  whatever  goes 
into  the  Shivering  Sand  is  sucked  down  and  seen  no  more." 

"Does  Rosanna  Spearman  know  that?" 

"She  knows  it  as  well  as  I  do." 

"Then,"  says  the  Sergeant,  "what  on  earth  has  she  got  to 
do  but  to  tie  up  a  bit  of  stone  in  the  stained  dress  and  throw 
it  into  the  quicksand?  There  isn't  the  shadow  of  a  reason 
why  she  should  have  hidden  it — and  yet  she  must  have  hidden 
it.  Query,"  says  the  Sergeant,  walking  on  again,  "is  the 
paint-stained  dress  a  petticoat  or  a  night-gown  ?  or  is  it  some- 
thing else  which  there  is  a  reason  for  preserving  at  any  risk? 

146 


THE  MOONSTONE 

Mr.  Betteredge,  if  nothing  occurs  to  prevent  it,  I  must  go 
to  Frizinghall  to-morrow,  and  discover  what  she  bought  in 
the  town,  when  she  privately  got  the  materials  for  making 
the  substitute  dress.  It's  a  risk  to  leave  the  house  as  things 
are  now — but  it's  a  worse  risk  still  to  stir  another  step  in  this 
matter  in  the  dark.  Excuse  my  being  a  little  out  of  temper ; 
I'm  degraded  in  my  own  estimation — I  have  let  Rosanna 
Spearman  puzzle  me." 

When  we  got  back  the  servants  were  at  supper.  The  first 
person  we  saw  in  the  outer  yard  was  the  policeman  whom 
Superintendent  Seegrave  had  left  at  the  Sergeant's  disposal. 
The  Sergeant  asked  if  Rosanna  Spearman  had  returned.  Yes. 
When?  Nearly  an  hour  since.  What  had  she  done?  She 
had  gone  up  stairs  to  take  off  her  bonnet  and  cloak — and  she 
was  now  at  supper  quietly  with  the  rest. 

Without  making  any  remark  Sergeant  Cuff  walked  on, 
sinking  lower  and  lower  in  his  own  estimation,  to  the  back 
of  the  house.  Missing  the  entrance  in  the  dark,  he  went  on, 
in  spite  of  my  calling  to  him,  till  he  was  stopped  by  a  wicket- 
gate  which  led  into  the  garden.  When  I  joined  him  to  bring 
him  back  by  the  right  way,  I  found  that  he  was  looking  up 
attentively  at  one  particular  window,  on  the  bedroom  floor, 
at  the  back  of  the  house. 

Looking  up  in  my  turn,  I  discovered  that  the  object  of  his 
contemplation  was  the  window  of  Miss  Rachel's  room,  and 
that  lights  were  passing  backward  and  forward  there  as  if 
something  unusual  was  going  on. 

"Isn't  that  Miss  Verinder's  room  ?"  asked  Sergeant  Cuff. 

I  replied  that  it  was,  and  invited  him  to  go  in  with  me  to 
supper.  The  Sergeant  remained  in  his  place,  and  said  some- 
thing about  enjoying  the  smell  of  the  garden  at  night.  I  left 
him  to  his  enjoyment.  Just  as  I  was  turning  in  at  the  door 
I  heard  The  Last  Rose  of  Summer  at  the  wicket-gate.  Ser- 
geant Cuff  had  made  another  discovery !  And  my  young 
lady's  window  was  at  the  bottom  of  it  this  time ! 

That  latter  reflection  took  me  back  again  to  the  Sergeant, 
with  a  polite  intimation  that  I  could  not  find  it  in  my  heart 
to  leave  him  by  himself.  "Is  there  any  thing  you  don't  under- 
stand up  there?"  I  added,  pointing  to  Miss  Rachel's  window. 

Judging  by  his  voice.  Sergeant  Cuff  had  suddenly  risen 

147 


THE  MOONSTONE 

again  to  the  right  place  in  his  own  estimation.  "You  are 
great  people  for  betting  in  Yorkshire,  are  you  not?"  he  asked. 

"Well?"  I  said.     "Suppose  we  are?" 

"If  I  was  a  Yorkshireman,"  proceeded  the  Sergeant,  taking 
my  arm,  "I  would  lay  you  an  even  sovereign,  Mr.  Betteredge, 
that  your  young  lady  has  suddenly  resolved  to  leave  the  house. 
If  I  won  on  that  event,  I  should  offer  to  lay  another  sovereign 
that  the  idea  has  occurred  to  her  within  the  last  hour." 

The  first  of  the  Sergeant's  guesses  startled  me.  The  sec- 
ond mixed  itself  up  somehow  in  my  head  with  the  report 
we  had  heard  from  the  policeman,  that  Rosanna  Spearman 
had  returned  from  the  sands  within  the  last  hour.  The  two 
together  had  a  curious  effect  on  me  as  we  went  in  to  supper. 
I  shook  off  Sergeant  Cuff's  arm,  and,  forgetting  my  man- 
ners, pushed  by  him  through  the  door  to  make  rfiy  own  in- 
quiries for  myself. 

Samuel,  the  footman,  was  the  first  person  I  met  in  the 
passage. 

"Her  ladyship  is  waiting  to  see  you  and  Sergeant  Cuff," 
he  said,  before  I  could  put  any  questions  to  him. 

"How  long  has  she  been  waiting?"  asked  the  Sergeant's 
voice  behind  me. 

"For  the  last  hour,  sir." 

There  it  was  again !  Rosanna  had  come  back ;  Miss  Rachel 
had  taken  some  resolution  out  of  the  common ;  and  my  lady 
had  been  waiting  to  see  the  Sergeant — all  within  the  last 
hour !  It  was  not  pleasant  to  find  these  very  different  persons 
and  things  linking  themselves  together  in  this  way.  I  went 
on  up  stairs,  without  looking  at  Sergeant  Cuff  or  speaking 
to  him.  My  hand  took  a  sudden  fit  of  trembling  as  I  lifted 
it  to  knock  at  my  mistress's  door. 

"I  shouldn't  be  surprised,"  whispered  the  Sergeant  over 
my  shoulder,  "if  a  scandal  was  to  burst  up  in  the  house  to- 
night. Don't  be  alarmed !  I  have  put  the  muzzle  on  worse 
family  difficulties  than  this  in  my  time." 

As  he  said  the  words  I  heard  my  mistress's  voice  calling 
to  us  to  come  in. 


148 


THE  MOONSTONE 


CHAPTER  XVI. 

WE  found  my  lady  with  no  light  in  the  room  but  the 
reading-lamp.  The  shade  was  screwed  down  so  as 
to  overshadow  her  face.  Instead  of  looking  up  at  us  in  her 
usual  straightforward  way,  she  sat  close  at  the  table,  and 
kept  her  eyes  fixed  obstinately  on  an  open  book. 

"Officer,"  she  said,  "is  it  important  to  the  inquiry  you  are 
conducting  to  know  beforehand  if  any  person  now  in  this 
house  wishes  to  leave  it?" 

"Most  important,  my  lady." 

"I  have  to  tell  you,  then,  that  Miss  Verinder  proposes  go- 
ing to  stay  with  her  aunt,  Mrs.  Ablewhite,  of  Frizinghall. 
She  has  arranged  to  leave  us  the  first  thing  to-morrow 
morning." 

Sergeant  Cuff  looked  at  me.  I  made  a  step  forward  to 
speak  to  my  mistress — and,  feeling  my  heart  fail  me,  if  I 
must  own  it,  took  a  step  back  again,  and  said  nothing. 

"May  I  ask  your  ladyship  zvhcn  Miss  Verinder  first  thought 
of  going  to  her  aunt's?"  inquired  the  Sergeant. 

"About  an  hour  since,"  answered  my  mistress. 

Sergeant  Cuff  looked  at  me  once  more.  They  say  old  peo- 
ple's hearts  are  not  very  easily  moved.  My  heart  couldn't 
have  thumped  much  harder  than  it  did  now,  if  I  had  been 
five-and-twenty  again ! 

"I  have  no  claim,  my  lady,"  says  the  Sergeant,  "to  control 
Miss  Verinder's  actions.  All  I  can  ask  you  to  do  is  to  put 
off  her  departure,  if  possible,  till  later  in  the  day.  I  must 
go  to  Frizinghall  myself  to-morrow  morning — and  I  shall 
be  back  by  two  o'clock,  if  not  before.  If  Miss  Verinder  can 
be  kept  here  till  that  time,  I  should  wish  to  sav  two  words  to 
her — unexpectedly — before  she  goes." 

My  lady  directed  me  to  give  the  coachman  her  orders  that 
the  carriage  was  not  to  come  for  Miss  Rachel  until  two 
o'clock.  "Have  you  more  to  say?"  she  asked  of  the  Sergeant, 
when  this  had  been  done. 

"Only  one  thing,  your  ladyship.  If  Miss  Verinder  is  sur- 
prised at  this  change  in  the  arrangements,  please  not  to  men- 
tion me  as  being  the  cause  of  putting  off  her  journey." 

149 


THE  MOONSTONE 

My  mistress  lifted  her  head  suddenly  from  her  book  as  if 
she  was  going  to  say  something — checked  herself  by  a  great 
effort — and,  looking  back  again  at  the  open  page,  dismissed 
us  with  a  sign  of  her  hand. 

"That's  a  wonderful  woman,"  said  Sergeant  Cufif,  when  we 
were  out  in  the  hall  again.  "But  for  her  self-control  the 
mystery  that  puzzles  you,  Mr.  Betteredge,  would  have  been 
at  an  end  to-night." 

At  those  words  the  truth  rushed  at  last  into  my  stupid  old 
head.  For  the  moment  I  suppose  I  must  have  gone  clean 
out  of  my  senses.  I  seized  the  Sergeant  by  the  collar  of  his 
coat  and  pinned  him  against  the  wall. 

"Damn  you !"  I  cried  out,  "there's  something  wrong  about 
Miss  Rachel — and  you  have  been  hiding  it  from  me  all  this 
time !" 

Sergeant  Cuff  looked  up  at  me — flat  against  the  wall — 
without  stirring  a  hand  or  moving  a  muscle  of  his  melan- 
choly face. 

"Ah,"  he  said,  "you've  guessed  it  at  last !" 

My  hand  dropped  from  his  collar,  and  my  head  sank  on 
my  breast.  Please  to  remember,  as  some  excuse  for  my 
breaking  out  as  I  did,  that  I  had  served  the  family  for  fifty 
years.  Miss  Rachel  had  climbed  upon  my  knees,  and  pulled 
my  whiskers,  many  and  many  a  time  when  she  was  a  child. 
Miss  Rachel,  with  all  her  faults,  had  been,  to  my  mind,  the 
dearest  and  prettiest  and  best  young  mistress  that  ever  an  old 
servant  waited  on,  and  loved.  I  begged  Sergeant  Cufif's  par- 
don, but  I  am  afraid  I  did  it  with  watery  eyes,  and  not  in  a 
very  becoming  way. 

"Don't  distress  yourself,  Mr.  Betteredge,"  says  the  Ser- 
geant, with  more  kindness  than  I  had  any  right  to  expect 
from  him.  "In  my  line  of  life,  if  we  were  quick  at  taking 
offense  we  shouldn't  be  worth  salt  to  our  porridge.  If  it's 
any  comfort  to  you,  collar  me  again.  You  don't  in  the  least 
know  how  to  do  it ;  but  I'll  overlook  your  awkwardness  in 
consideration  of  your  feelings." 

He  curled  up  at  the  corners  of  his  lips,  and,  in  his  own 
dreary  way,  seemed  to  think  he  had  delivered  himself  of  a 
very  good  joke. 

150 


THE  MOONSTONE 

I  led  him  into  my  own  little  sitting-room  and  closed  the 
door, 

"Tell  me  the  truth,  Sergeant,"  I  said.  "What  do  you  sus- 
pect ?    It's  no  kindness  to  hide  it  from  me  now." 

"I  don't  suspect,"  said  Sergeant  Cuff.     "I  know." 

My  unlucky  temper  began  to  get  the  better  of  me  again. 

"Do  you  mean  to  tell  me  in  plain  English,"  I  said,  "that 
Miss  Rachel  has  stolen  her  own  Diamond?" 

"Yes,"  says  the  Sergeant ;  "that  is  what  I  mean  to  tell 
you  in  so  many  words.  Miss  Verinder  has  been  in  secret 
possession  of  the  Moonstone  from  first  to  last ;  and  she  has 
taken  Rosanna  Spearman  into  her  confidence  because  she  has 
calculated  on  our  suspecting  Rosanna  Spearman  of  the  theft. 
There  is  the  whole  case  in  a  nut-shell.  Collar  me  again,  Mr. 
Betteredge.  If  it's  any  vent  to  your  feelings,  collar  me 
again." 

God  help  me !  my  feelings  were  not  to  be  relieved  in  that 
way.  "Give  me  your  reasons !"  That  was  all  I  could  say  to 
him. 

"You  shall  hear  my  reasons  to-morrow,"  said  the  Ser- 
geant. "If  Miss  Verinder  refuses  to  put  off  her  visit  to  her 
aunt,  which  you  will  find  Miss  Verinder  will  do,  I  shall  be 
obliged  to  lay  the  whole  case  before  your  mistress  to-morrow. 
And  as  I  don't  know  what  may  come  of  it,  I  shall  request 
you  to  be  present  and  to  hear  what  passes  on  both  sides.  Let 
the  matter  rest  for  to-night.  No,  Mr.  Betteredge,  you  don't 
get  a  word  more  on  the  subject  of  the  Moonstone  out  of  me. 
There  is  your  table  spread  for  supper.  That's  one  of  the 
many  human  infirmities  which  I  always  treat  tenderly.  If 
you  will  ring  the  bell,  I'll  say  grace.  'For  what  we  are  going 
to  receive — '  " 

"I  wish  you  a  good  appetite  to  it,  Sergeant,"  I  said.  "My 
appetite  is  gone.  I'll  wait  and  see  you  served,  and  then  I'll 
ask  you  to  excuse  me  if  I  go  away  and  try  to  get  the  better 
of  this  by  myself." 

I  saw  him  served  with  the  best  of  every  thing — and  I 
shouldn't  have  been  sorry  if  the  best  of  every  thing  had  choked 
him.  The  head  gardener,  Mr.  Begbie,  came  in  at  the  same 
time  with  his  weekly  account.    The  Sergeant  got  on  the  sub- 


THE  MOONSTONE 

ject  of  roses  and  the  merits  of  grass  walks  and  gravel  walks 
immediately.  I  left  the  two  together,  and  went  out  with  a 
heavy  heart.  This  was  the  first  trouble  I  remember  for  many 
a  long  year  which  wasn't  to  be  blown  off  by  a  whiff  of  tobacco, 
and  which  was  even  beyond  the  reach  of  Robinson  Crusoe, 

Being  restless  and  miserable,  and  having  no  particular  room 
to  go  to,  I  took  a  turn  on  the  terrace,  and  thought  it  over  in 
peace  and  quietness  by  myself.  It  doesn't  much  matter  what 
my  thoughts  were.  I  felt  wretchedly  old,  and  worn  out,  and 
unfit  for  my  place — and  began  to  wonder,  for  the  first  time 
in  my  life,  when  it  would  please  God  to  take  me.  With  all 
this  I  held  firm,  notwithstanding,  to  my  belief  in  Miss  Rachel. 
If  Sergeant  Cuff  had  been  Solomon  in  all  his  glory,  and  had 
told  me  that  my  young  lady  had  mixed  herself  up  in  a  mean 
and  guilty  plot,  I  should  have  had  but  one  answer  for  Solo- 
mon, wise  as  he  was,  "You  don't  know  her,  and  I  do." 

My  meditations  were  interrupted  by  Samuel.  He  brought 
me  a  written  message  from  my  mistress. 

Going  into  the  house  to  get  a  light  to  read  it  by,  Samuel 
remarked  that  there  seemed  a  change  coming  in  the  weather. 
My  troubled  mind  had  prevented  me  from  noticing  it  before. 
But,  now  my  attention  was  roused,  I  heard  the  dogs  uneasy, 
and  the  wind  moaning  low.  Looking  up  at  the  sky,  I  saw 
the  rack  of  clouds  getting  blacker  and  blacker,  and  hurrying 
faster  and  faster  over  a  watery  moon.  Wild  weather  coming 
— Samuel  was  right,  wild  weather  coming. 

The  message  from  my  lady  informed  me  that  the  magis- 
trate at  Frizinghall  had  written  to  remind  her  about  the  three 
Indians.  Early  in  the  coming  week  the  rogues  must  needs 
be  released  and  left  free  to  follow  their  own  devices.  If  we 
had  any  more  questions  to  ask  them,  there  was  no  time  to 
lose.  Having  forgotten  to  mention  this  when  she  had  last 
seen  Sergeant  Cuff,  my  mistress  now  desired  me  to  supply 
the  omission.  The  Indians  had  gone  clean  out  of  my  head, 
as  they  have,  no  doubt,  gone  clean  out  of  yours.  I  didn't 
see  much  use  in  stirring  that  subject  again.  However,  I 
obeyed  my  orders  on  the  spot,  as  a  matter  of  course. 

I  found  Sergeant  Cuff  and  the  gardener,  with  a  bottle  of 
Scotch  whisky  between  them,  head  over  ears  in  an  argument 
on  the  growing  of  roses.    The  Sergeant  was  so  deeply  inter- 

152 


THE  MOONSTONE 

ested  that  he  held  up  his  hand  and  signed  to  me  not  to 
interrupt  the  discussion,  when  I  came  in.  As  far  as  I  could 
understand  it,  the  question  between  them  was,  whether  the 
white  moss-rose  did,  or  did  not,  require  to  be  budded  on  the 
dog-rose  to  make  it  grow  well.  Mr.  Begbie  said,  "Yes ;"  and 
Sergeant  Cuff  said,  "No."  They  appealed  to  me  as  hotly  as 
a  couple  of  boys.  Knowing  nothing  whatever  about  the 
growing  of  roses,  I  steered  a  middle  course — just  as  her 
majesty's  judges  do,  when  the  scales  of  justice  bother  them 
by  hanging,  even  to  a  hair.  "Gentlemen,"  I  remarked,  "there 
is  much  to  be  said  on  both  sides."  In  the  temporary  lull  pro- 
duced by  that  impartial  sentence  I  laid  my  lady's  written 
message  on  the  table  under  the  eyes  of  Sergeant  Cuff. 

I  had  got  by  this  time  as  nearly  as  might  be  to  hate  the 
Sergeant.  But  truth  compels  me  to  acknowledge  that,  in 
respect  of  readiness  of  mind,  he  was  a  wonderful  man. 

In  half  a  minute  after  he  had  read  the  message  he  had 
looked  back  into  his  memory  for  Superintendent  Seegrave's 
report ;  had  picked  out  that  part  of  it  in  which  the  Indians 
were  concerned :  and  was  ready  with  his  answer.  A  certain 
great  traveler,  who  understood  the  Indians  and  their  lan- 
guage, had  figured  in  Mr.  Seegrave's  report,  hadn't  he? 
Very  well.  Did  I  know  the  gentleman's  name  and  address? 
Very  well  again.  Would  I  write  them  on  the  back  of  my 
lady's  message?  Much  obliged  to  me.  Sergeant  Cuff  would 
look  that  gentleman  up  when  he  went  to  Frizinghall  in  the 
morning. 

"Do  you  expect  any  thing  .to  come  of  it  ?"  I  asked.  "Super- 
intendent Seegrave  found  the  Indians  as  innocent  as  the  babe 
unborn." 

"Superintendent  Seegrave  has  been  proved  wrong,  up  to 
this  time,  in  all  his  conclusions,"  answered  the  Sergeant.  "It 
may  be  worth  while  to  find  out  to-morrow  whether  Superin- 
tendent Seegrave  was  wrong  about  the  Indians  as  well." 
With  that  he  turned  to  Mr.  Begbie,  and  took  up  the  argu- 
ment again  exactly  at  the  place  where  it  had  left  off.  "This 
question  between  us  is  a  question  of  soils  and  seasons,  and 
patience  and  pains,  Mr.  Gardener.  Now  let  me  put  it  to  you 
from  another  point  of  view.  You  take  your  white  moss- 
rose — " 


THE  MOONSTONE 

By  that  time  I  had  closed  the  door  on  them,  and  was  out 
of  hearing  of  the  rest  of  the  dispute. 

In  the  passage  I  met  Penelope  hanging  about,  and  asked 
what  she  was  waiting  for. 

She  was  waiting  for  her  young  lady's  bell,  when  her  young 
lady  chose  to  call  her  back  to  go  on  with  the  packing  for  the 
next  day's  journey.  Further  inquiry  revealed  to  me  that 
Miss  Rachel  had  given  it  as  a  reason  for  wanting  to  go  to 
her  aunt  at  Frizinghall  that  the  house  was  unendurable  to  her 
and  that  she  could  bear  the  odious  presence  of  a  policeman 
under  the  same  roof  with  herself  no  longer.  On  being  in- 
formed, half  an  hour  since,  that  her  departure  would  be 
delayed  till  two  in  the  afternoon,  she  had  flown  into  a  violent 
passion.  My  lady,  present  at  the  time,  had  severely  rebuked 
her,  and  then,  having  apparently  something  to  say,  which  was 
reserved  for  her  daughter's  private  ear,  had  sent  Penelope 
out  of  the  room.  My  girl  was  in  wretchedly  low  spirits  about 
the  changed  state  of  things  in  the  house.  "Nothing  goes 
right,  father ;  nothing  is  like  what  it  used  to  be.  I  feel  as  if 
some  dreadful  misfortune  was  hanging  over  us  all." 

That  was  my  feeling  too.  But  I  put  a  good  face  on  it  be- 
fore my  daughter.  Miss  Rachel's  bell  rang  while  we  were 
talking.  Penelope  ran  up  the  back  stairs  to  go  on  with  the 
packing.  I  went  by  the  other  way  to  the  hall,  to  see  what 
the  glass  said  about  the  change  in  the  weather. 

Just  as  I  approached  the  swing-door  leading  into  the  hall 
from  the  servants'  ofifices,  it  was  violently  opened  from  the 
other  side ;  and  Rosanna  Spearman  ran  by  me,  with  a  miser- 
able look  of  pain  in  her  face  and  one  of  her  hands  pressed 
hard  over  her  heart,  as  if  the  pang  was  in  that  quarter. 
"What's  the  matter,  my  girl?"  I  asked,  stopping  her.  "Are 
you  ill  ?"  "For  God's  sake,  don't  speak  to  me,"  she  answered 
and  twisted  herself  out  of  my  hands,  and  ran  on  toward  the 
servants'  staircase.  I  called  to  the  cook,  who  was  within  hear- 
ing, to  look  after  the  poor  girl.  Two  other  persons  proved 
to  be  within  hearing  as  well  as  the  cook.  Sergeant  Cuff 
darted  softly  out  of  my  room,  and  asked  what  was  the  matter. 
I  answered,  "Nothing."  Mr.  Franklin,  on  the  other  side, 
pulled  open  the  swing-door,  and  beckoning  me  into  the  hall, 
inquired  if  I  had  seen  any  thing  of  Rosanna  Spearman, 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"She  has  just  passed  me,  sir,  with  a  very  disturbed  face, 
and  in  a  very  odd  manner." 

"I  am  afraid  I  am  innocently  the  cause  of  that  disturbance, 
Betteredge." 

''You,  sir!" 

'T  can't  explain  it,"  says  Mr.  Franklin ;  "but  if  the  girl  is 
concerned  in  the  loss  of  the  Diamond,  I  do  really  believe  she 
was  on  the  point  of  confessing  every  thing — to  me,  of  all  the 
people  in  the  world — not  two  minutes  since." 

Looking  toward  the  swing-door,  as  he  said  those  last  words, 
I  fancied  I  saw  it  opened  a  little  way  from  the  inner  side. 

Was  there  any  body  listening?  The  door  fell  to  before  I 
could  get  to  it.  Looking  through,  the  moment  after,  I  thought 
I  saw  the  tails  of  Sergeant  Cuff's  respectable  black  coat  dis- 
appearing round  the  corner  of  the  passage.  He  knew  as  well 
as  I  did  that  he  could  expect  no  more  help  from  me,  now 
that  I  had  discovered  the  turn  which  his  investigations  were 
really  taking.  LTnder  those  circumstances  it  was  quite  in  his 
character  to  help  himself,  and  to  do  it  by  the  under-ground 
way. 

Not  feeling  sure  that  I  had  really  seen  the  Sergeant — and 
not  desiring  to  make  needless  mischief,  where,  Heaven  knows, 
there  was  mischief  enough  going  on  already — I  told  Mr. 
Franklin  that  I  thought  one  of  the  dogs  had  got  into  the 
house — and  then  begged  him  to  describe  what  had  happened 
between  Rosanna  and  himself. 

"Were  you  passing  through  the  hall,  sir?"  I  asked.  "Did 
you  meet  her  accidentally,  when  she  spoke  to  you?" 

Mr.  Franklin  pointed  to  the  billiard-table. 

"I  was  knocking  the  balls  about,"  he  said,  "and  trying  to 
get  this  miserable  business  of  the  Diamond  out  of  my  mind. 
I  happened  to  look  up — and  there  stood  Rosanna  Spearman 
at  the  side  of  me,  like  a  ghost !  Her  stealing  on  me  in  that 
way  was  so  strange  that  I  hardly  knew  what  to  do  at  first. 
Seeing  a  very  anxious  expression  in  her  face.  T  asked  her  if 
she  wished  to  speak  to  me.  She  answered.  'Yes,  if  I  dare.' 
Knowing  what  suspicion  attached  to  her,  I  could  only  put 
one  construction  to  such  language  as  that.  T  confess  it  made 
me  uncomfortable.  I  had  no  wish  to  invite  the  girl's  con- 
fidence.    At  the  same  time,  in  the  difficulties  that  now  beset 

15s 


THE  MOONSTONE 

us,  I  could  hardly  feel  justified  in  refusing  to  listen  to  her, 
if  she  was  really  bent  on  speaking  to  me.  It  was  an  awk- 
ward position;  and  I  dare  say  I  got  out  of  it  awkwardly 
enough.  I  said  to  her,  'I  don't  quite  understand  you.  Is  there 
any  thing  you  want  me  to  do?'  Mind,  Bettercdge,  I  didn't 
speak  unkindly !  The  poor  girl  can't  help  being  ugly — I  felt 
that  at  the  time.  The  cue  was  still  in  my  hand,  and  I  went 
on  knocking  the  balls  about,  to  take  off  the  awkwardness  of 
the  thing.  As  it  turned  out,  I  only  made  matters  worse  still. 
I'm  afraid  I  mortified  her  without  meaning  it !  She  sud- 
denly turned  away.  'He  looks  at  the  billiard-balls,'  I  heard 
her  say.  'Any  thing  rather  than  look  at  me!'  Before  I  could 
stop  her  she  had  left  the  hall.  I  am  not  quite  easy  about  it, 
Betteredge.  Would  you  mind  telling  Rosanna  that  I  meant 
no  unkindness?  I  have  been  a  little  hard  on  her,  perhaps, 
in  my  own  thoughts — I  have  almost  hoped  that  the  loss  of 
the  Diamond  might  be  traced  to  her.  Not  from  any  ill-will 
to  the  poor  girl ;  but — "  He  stopped  there,  and,  going  back 
to  the  billiard-table,  began  to  knock  the  balls  about  once  more. 

After  what  had  passed  between  the  Sergeant  and  me,  I 
knew  what  it  was  that  he  had  left  tmspoken  as  well  as  he 
knew  it  himself. 

Nothing  but  the  tracing  of  the  Moonstone  to  our  second 
house-maid  could  now  raise  Miss  Rachel  above  the  infamous 
suspicion  that  rested  on  her  in  the  mind  of  Sergeant  Cuff. 
It  was  no  longer  a  question  of  quieting  my  young  lady's 
nervous  excitement;  it  was  a  question  of  proving  her  inno- 
cence. If  Rosanna  had  done  nothing  to  compromise  herself, 
the  hope  which  Mr.  Franklin  confessed  to  having  felt  would 
have  been  hard  enough  on  her  in  all  conscience.  But  this 
was  not  the  case.  She  had  pretended  to  be  ill,  and  had  gone 
secretly  to  Frizinghall.  She  had  been  up  all  night,  making 
something,  or  destroying  something,  in  private.  And  she  had 
been  at  the  Shivering  Sand  that  evening  under  circum- 
stances which  were  highly  suspicious,  to  say  the  least 
of  them.  For  all  these  reasons,  sorry  as  I  was  for  Ro- 
sanna, I  could  not  but  think  that  Mr.  Franklin's  way  of 
looking  at  the  matter  was  neither  unnatural  nor  unreason- 
able, in  Mr.  Franklin's  position.  I  said  a  word  to  him  to  that 
effect. 

156 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Yes,  yes!"  he  said,  in  return.  "But  there  is  just  a  chance 
— a  very  poor  one,  certainly — that  Rosanna's  conduct  may 
admit  of  some  explanation  which  we  don't  see  at  present.  I 
hate  hurting  a  woman's  feelings,  Betteredge !  Tell  the  poor 
creature  what  I  told  you  to  tell  her.  And  if  she  wants  to 
speak  to  me — I  don't  care  whether  I  get  into  a  scrape  or  not 
— send  her  to  me  in  the  library."  With  those  kind  words  he 
laid  down  the  cue  and  left  me. 

Inquiry  at  the  servants'  offices  informed  me  that  Rosanna 
had  retired  to  her  own  room.  She  had  declined  all  offers  of 
assistance  with  thanks,  and  had  only  asked  to  be  left  to  rest 
in  quiet.  Here,  therefore,  was  an  end  of  any  confession  on 
her  part,  supposing  she  really  had  a  confession  to  make,  for 
that  night.  I  reported  the  result  to  Mr.  Franklin,  who,  there- 
upon, left  the  library,  and  went  up  to  bed. 

I  was  putting  the  lights  out,  and  making  the  windows  fast, 
when  Samuel  came  in  with  news  of  the  two  guests  whom 
I  had  left  in  my  room.  The  argument  about  the  white  moss- 
rose  had  apparently  come  to  an  end  at  last.  The  gardener 
had  gone  home,  and  Sergeant  Cuff  was  nowhere  to  be  found 
in  the  lower  regions  of  the  house. 

I  looked  into  my  room.  Quite  true — nothing  was  to  be 
discovered  there  but  a  couple  of  empty  tumblers  and  a  strong 
smell  of  hot  grog.  Had  the  Sergeant  gone  of  his  own  accord 
to  the  bed-chamber  that  was  prepared  for  him?  I  went  up 
stairs  to  see. 

After  reaching  the  second  landing,  I  thought  I  heard  a 
sound  of  quiet  and  regular  breathing  on  my  left-hand  side. 
My  left-hand  side  led  to  the  corridor  which  communicated 
with  Miss  Rachel's  room.  I  looked  in,  and  there,  coiled  up 
on  three  chairs  placed  right  across  the  passage — there,  with 
a  red  handkerchief  tied  round  his  grizzled  head,  and  his  re- 
spectable black  coat  rolled  up  for  a  pillow,  lay  and  slept 
Sergeant  Cuff ! 

He  woke,  instantly  and  quietly,  like  a  dog,  the  moment  I 
approached  him. 

"Good-night,  Mr.  Betteredge,"  he  said.  "And  mind,  if 
you  ever  take  to  growing  roses,  the  white  moss-rose  is  all 
the  better  for  not  being  budded  on  the  dog-rose,  whatever  the 
gardener  may  say  to  the  contrary !" 

157 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"What  are  you  doing  here?"  I  asked.  "Why  are  you  not 
in  your  proper  bed?" 

'T  am  not  in  my  proper  bed,"  answered  the  Sergeant,  "be- 
cause I  am  one  of  the  many  people  in  this  miserable  world 
who  can't  earn  their  money  honestly  and  easily  at  the  same 
time.  There  was  a  coincidence,  this  evening,  between  the 
period  of  Rosanna  Spearman's  return  from  the  Sands  and  the 
period  when  Miss  Verinder  took  her  resolution  to  leave  the 
house.  Whatever  Rosanna  may  have  hidden,  it's  clear  to  my 
mind  that  your  young  lady  couldn't  go  away  until  she  knew 
that  it  was  hidden.  The  two  must  have  communicated  pri- 
vately once  already  to-night.  If  they  try  to  communicate 
again,  when  the  house  is  quiet,  I  want  to  be  in  the  way,  and 
stop  it.  Don't  blame  me  for  upsetting  your  sleeping  arrange- 
ments, Mr.  Betteredge — blame  the  Diamond." 

"I  wish  to  God  the  Diamond  had  never  found  its  way  into 
this  house !"  I  broke  out. 

Sergeant  Cuff  looked  with  a  rueful  face  at  the  three  chairs 
on  which  he  had  condemned  himself  to  pass  the  night. 

"So  do  I,"  he  said,  gravely. 


CHAPTER    XVn. 

NOTHING  happened  in  the  night ;  and,  I  am  happy  to 
add,  no  attempt  at  communication  between  Miss  Rachel 
and  Rosanna  rewarded  the  vigilance  of  Sergeant  Cuff. 

I  had  expected  the  Sergeant  to  set  off  for  Frizinghall  the 
first  thing  in  the  morning.  He  waited  about,  however,  as 
if  he  had  something  else  to  do  first.  I  left  him  to  his  own 
devices ;  and  going  into  the  grounds  shortly  after,  met  Mr. 
Franklin  on  his  favorite  walk  by  the  shrubbery  side. 

Before  we  had  exchanged  two  words  the  Sergeant  un- 
expectedly joined  us.  He  made  up  to  Mr.  Franklin,  who 
received  him,  I  must  own,  haughtily  enough.  "Have  you  any 
thing  to  say  to  me?"  was  all  the  return  he  got  for  politely 
wishing  Mr.  Franklin  good-morning. 

"I  have  something  to  say  to  you,  sir,"  answered  the  Ser- 
geant, "on  the  subject  of  the  inquiry  I  am  conducting  here. 

158 


THE  MOONSTONE 

You  detected  the  turn  that  inquiry  was  really  taking  yester- 
day. Naturally  enough,  in  your  position,  you  are  shocked 
and  distressed.  Naturally  enough,  also,  you  visit  your  own 
angry  sense  of  your  own  family  scandal  upon  me." 

"What  do  you  want?"  Mr.  Franklin  broke  in,  sharply 
enough. 

"I  want  to  remind  you,  sir,  that  I  have  at  any  rate,  thus 
far,  not  been  proved  to  be  wrong.  Bearing  that  in  mind,  be 
pleased  to  remember,  at  the  same  time,  that  I  am  an  officer 
of  the  law  acting  here  under  the  sanction  of  the  mistress  of 
the  house.  Under  these  circumstances,  is  it,  or  is  it  not,  your 
duty  as  a  good  citizen  to  assist  me  with  any  special  informa- 
tion which  you  may  happen  to  possess?" 

"I  possess  no  special  information,"  says  Mr.  Franklin. 

Sergeant  Cuff  put  that  answer  by  him,  as  if  no  answer  had 
been  made. 

"You  may  save  my  time,  sir,  from  being  wasted  on  an 
inquiry  at  a  distance,"  he  went  on,  "if  you  choose  to  under- 
stand me  and  speak  out." 

"I  don't  understand  you,"  answered  Mr.  Franklin;  "and  I 
have  nothing  to  say." 

"One  of  the  female  servants,  I  won't  mention  names,  spoke 
to  you  privately,  sir,  last  night." 

Once  more  Mr.  Franklin  cut  him  short;  once  more  Mr. 
Franklin  answered,  "I  have  nothing  to  say." 

Standing  by  in  silence,  I  thought  of  the  movement  in  the 
swing-door,  on  the  previous  evening,  and  of  the  coat-tails 
which  I  had  seen  disappearing  down  the  passage.  Sergeant 
Cuff  had,  no  doubt,  just  heard  enough  before  I  interrupted 
him  to  make  him  suspect  that  Rosanna  had  relieved  her  mind 
by  confessing  something  to  Mr.  Franklin  Blake. 

This  notion  had  barely  struck  me — when  who  should  ap- 
pear at  the  end  of  the  shrubbery  walk  but  Rosanna  Spearman 
in  her  own  proper  person !  She  was  followed  by  Penelope, 
who  was  evidently  trying  to  make  her  retrace  her  steps  to 
the  house.  Seeing  that  Mr.  Franklin  was  not  alone,  Rosanna 
came  to  a  stand-still,  evidently  in  great  perplexity  what  to 
do  next.  Penelope  waited  behind  her.  Mr.  Franklin  saw 
the  girls  as  soon  as  I  saw  them.  The  Sergeant,  with  his 
devilish  cuiming,  took  on  not  to  have  noticed  tl'-cm   at  all. 

159 


THE  MOONSTONE 

All  this  happened  in  an  instant.  Before  either  Mr.  Franklin 
or  I  could  say  a  word  Sergeant  Cuff  struck  in  smoothly,  with 
an  appearance  of  continuing  previous  conversation. 

"You  needn't  be  afraid  of  harming  the  girl,  sir,"  he  said, 
to  Mr.  Franklin,  speaking  in  a  loud  voice,  so  that  Rosanna 
might  hear  him.  "On  the  contrary,  I  recommend  you  to 
honor  me  with  your  confidence,  if  you  feel  any  interest  in 
Rosanna  Spearman." 

Mr.  Franklin  instantly  took  on  not  to  have  noticed  the 
girls  either.     He  answered,  speaking  loudly  on  his  side : 

"I  take  no  interest  whatever  in  Rosanna  Spearman." 

I  looked  toward  the  end  of  the  walk.  All  I  saw  at  the 
distance  was  that  Rosanna  suddenly  turned  round  the  moment 
Mr.  Franklin  had  spoken.  Instead  of  resisting  Penelope,  as 
she  had  done  the  moment  before,  she  now  let  my  daughter 
take  her  by  the  arm  and  lead  her  back  to  the  house. 

The  breakfast-bell  rang  as  the  two  girls  disappeared — and 
even  Sergeant  Cuff  was  now  obliged  to  give  it  up  as  a  bad 
job!  He  said  to  me  quietly,  "I  shall  go  to  Frizinghall,  Mr. 
Betteredge ;  and  I  shall  be  back  before  two."  He  went  his 
way  without  a  word  more — and  for  some  few  hours  we  were 
well  rid  of  him. 

"You  must  make  it  right  with  Rosanna,"  Mr.  Franklin 
said  to  me  when  we  were  alone.  "I  seem  to  be  fated  to  say 
or  do  something  awkward  before  that  unlucky  girl.  You 
must  have  seen  yourself  that  Sergeant  Cuff  laid  a  trap  for 
both  of  us.  If  he  could  confuse  ntc,  or  irritate  her  into 
breaking  out,  either  she  or  I  might  have  said  something  which 
would  answer  his  purpose.  On  the  spur  of  the  moment,  I 
saw  no  better  way  out  of  it  than  the  way  I  took.  It 
stopped  the  girl  from  saying  any  thing,  and  it  showed 
the  Sergeant  that  I  saw  through  him.  He  was  evidently 
listening,  Betteredge,  when  I  was  speaking  to  you  last 
night." 

He  had  done  worse  than  listen,  as  I  privately  thought  to 
myself.  He  had  remembered  my  telling  him  that  the  girl 
was  in  love  with  Mr.  Franklin ;  and  he  had  calculated  on  that 
when  he  appealed  to  Mr.  Franklin's  interest  in  Rosanna — in 
Rosanna's  hearing. 

"As  to  listening,  sir,"  I  remarked,  keeping  the  other  point 

i6c 


ih 


THE  MOONSTONE 

to  myself,  "we  shall  all  be  rowing  in  the  same  boat  if  this 
sort  of  thing  goes  on  much  longer.  Prying  and  peeping  and 
listening  are  the  natural  occupations  of  people  situated  as  we 
are.  In  another  day  or  two,  Mr.  Franklin,  we  shall  all  be 
struck  dumb  together — for  this  reason,  that  we  shall  all  be 
listening  to  surprise  each  other's  secrets,  and  all  know  it. 
Excuse  my  breaking  out,  sir.  The  horrid  mystery  hanging 
over  us  in  this  house  gets  into  my  head  like  liquor,  and  makes 
me  wild.  I  won't  forget  what  you  have  told  me.  I'll  take  the 
first  opportunity  of  making  it  right  with  Rosanna  Spearman." 

"You  haven't  said  any  thing  to  her  yet  about  last  night, 
have  you?"  Mr.  Franklin  asked. 

"No,  sir." 

"Then  say  nothing  now.  I  had  better  not  invite  the  girl's 
confidence,  with  the  Sergeant  on  the  look-out  to  surprise  us 
together.  My  conduct  is  not  very  consistent,  Betteredge — 
is  it?  I  see  no  way  out  of  this  business  which  isn't  dreadful 
to  think  of  unless  the  Diamond  is  traced  to  Rosanna.  And 
yet  I  can't  and  won't  help  Sergeant  Cufif  to  find  the  girl  out." 

Unreasonable  enough,  no  doubt.  But  it  was  my  state  of 
mind  as  well.  I  thoroughly  understood  him.  If  you  will, 
for  once  in  your  life,  remember  that  you  are  mortal,  perhaps 
you  will  thoroughly  understand  him  too. 

The  state  of  things,  indoors  and  out,  while  Sergeant  Cuff 
was  on  his  way  to  Frizinghall,  was  briefly  this : 

Miss  Rachel  waited  for  the  time  when  the  carriage  was  to 
take  her  to  her  aunt's,  still  obstinately  shut  up  in  her  own 
room.  My  lady  and  Mr.  Franklin  breakfasted  together. 
After  breakfast  Mr.  Franklin  took  one  of  his  sudden  resolu- 
tions and  went  out  precipitately  to  quiet  his  mind  by  a  long 
walk.  I  was  the  only  person  who  saw  him  go ;  and  he  told 
me  he  should  be  back  before  the  Sergeant  returned.  The 
change  in  the  weather,  foreshadowed  overnight,  had  come. 
Heavy  rain  had  been  followed,  soon  after  dawn,  by  high  wind. 
It  was  blowing  fresh  as  the  day  got  on.  But  though  the 
clouds  threatened  more  than  once  the  rain  still  held  off.  It 
was  not  a  bad  day  for  a  walk,  if  you  were  young  and  strong, 
and  could  breast  the  great  gusts  of  wind  which  came  sweep- 
ing in  from  the  sea. 

I  attended  my  lady  after  breakfast,  and  assisted  her  in  the 
11  i6i 


THE  MOONSTONE 

settlement  of  our  household  accounts.  She  only  once  alluded 
to  the  matter  of  the  Moonstone,  and  that  was  in  the  way  of 
forbidding  any  present  mention  of  it  between  us.  "Wait  till 
that  man  comes  back,"  she  said,  meaning  the  Sergeant.  "We 
must  speak  of  it  then :  we  are  not  obliged  to  speak  of  it  now." 

After  leaving  my  mistress  I  found  Penelope  waiting  for  me 
in  my  room. 

"I  wish,  father,  you  would  come  and  speak  to  Rosanna," 
she  said.    "I  am  very  uneasy  about  her." 

I  suspected  what  was  the  matter  readily  enough.  But  it 
is  a  maxim  of  mine  that  men,  being  superior  creatures,  are 
bound  to  improve  women — if  they  can.  When  a  woman 
wants  me  to  do  any  thing,  my  daughter  or  not  it  doesn't 
matter,  I  always  insist  on  knowing  why.  The  oftener  you 
make  them  rummage  their  own  minds  for  a  reason,  the  more 
manageable  you  will  find  them  in  all  the  relations  of 
life.  It  isn't  their  fault — poor  wretches ! — that  they  act 
first,  and  think  afterward ;  it's  the  fault  of  the  fools  who 
humor  them. 

Penelope's  reason  why,  on  this  occasion,  may  be  given  in 
her  own  words.  "Fm  afraid,  father,"  she  said,  "Mr.  Frank- 
lin has  hurt  Rosanna  cruelly  without  intending  it." 

"What  took  Rosanna  into  the  shrubbery  walk?"  I  asked. 

"Her  own  madness,"  says  Penelope ;  "I  can  call  it  nothing 
else.  She  was  bent  on  speaking  to  Mr.  Franklin  this  morn- 
ing, come  what  might  of  it.  I  did  my  best  to  stop  her ;  you 
saw  that.  If  I  could  only  have  got  her  away  before  she  heard 
those  dreadful  words — " 

"There !  there !"  I  said,  "don't  lose  your  head.  I  can't  call 
to  mind  that  any  thing  happened  to  alarm  Rosanna." 

"Nothing  to  alarm  her,  father.  But  Mr.  Franklin  said  he 
took  no  interest  whatever  in  her — and,  oh,  he  said  it  in  such 
a  cruel  voice !" 

"He  said  it  to  stop  the  Sergeant's  mouth,"  I  answered. 

"I  told  her  that,"  says  Penelope.  "But  you  see,  father, 
though  Mr.  Franklin  isn't  to  blame,  he's  been  mortifying  and 
disappointing  her  for  weeks  and  weeks  past ;  and  now  this 
comes  on  the  top  of  it  all !  She  has  no  right,  of  course,  to 
expect  him  to  take  any  interest  in  her.  It's  quite  monstrous 
that  she  should  forget  herself  and  her  station  in  that  way. 

162 


.    THE  MOONSTONE 

But  she  seems  to  have  lost  pride  and  proper  feeUng  and  every 
thing.  She  frightened  me,  father,  when  Mr.  Frankhn  said 
those  words.  They  seemed  to  turn  her  into  stone.  A  sudden 
quiet  came  over  her,  and  she  has  gone  about  her  work  ever 
since  Hke  a  woman  in  a  dream." 

I  began  to  feel  a  little  uneasy.  There  was  something  in 
the  way  Penelope  put  it  which  silenced  my  superior  sense. 
I  called  to  mind,  now  my  thoughts  were  directed  that  way, 
what  had  passed  between  Mr.  Franklin  and  Rosanna  over- 
night. She  looked  cut  to  the  heart  on  that  occasion ;  and  now, 
as  ill-luck  would  have  it,  she  had  been  unavoidably  stung 
again,  poor  soul,  on  the  tender  place.  Sad !  sad ! — all  the 
more  sad  because  the  girl  had  no  reason  to  justify  her,  and  no 
right  to  feel  it. 

I  had  promised  Mr.  Franklin  to  speak  to  Rosanna,  and  this 
seemed  the  fittest  time  for  keeping  my  word. 

We  found  the  girl  sweeping  the  corridor  outside  the  bed- 
rooms, pale  and  composed,  and  neat  as  ever  in  her  modest 
print  dress.  I  noticed  a  curious  dimness  and  dullness  in  her 
eyes — not  as  if  she  had  been  crying,  but  as  if  she  had  been 
looking  at  something  too  long.  Possibly  it  was  a  misty 
something  raised  by  her  own  thoughts.  There  was  certainly 
no  object  about  her  to  look  at  which  she  had  not  seen  already 
hundreds  on  hundreds  of  times. 

"Cheer  up,  Rosanna !"  I  said.  "You  mustn't  fret  over 
your  own  fancies.  I  have  got  something  to  say  to  you  from 
Mr.  Franklin." 

I  thereupon  put  the  matter  in  the  right  view  before  her,  in 
the  friendliest  and  most  comforting  words  I  could  find.  My 
principles,  in  regard  to  the  other  sex,  are,  as  you  may  have 
noticed,  very  severe.  But  somehow  or  other  when  I  come 
face  to  face  with  the  women,  my  practice,  I  own,  is  not  com- 
formable. 

"Mr.  Franklin  is  very  kind  and  considerate.  Please  to 
thank  him."     That  was  all  the  answer  she  made  me. 

My  daughter  had  already  noticed  that  Rosanna  went  about 
her  work  like  a  woman  in  a  dream.  I  now  added  to  this 
observation  that  she  also  listened  and  spoke  like  a  woman 
in  a  dream.  I  doubted  if  her  mind  was  in  a  fit  condition  to 
take  in  what  I  had  said  to  her. 

163 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Are  you  quite  sure,  Rosanna,  that  you  understand  me?" 
I  asked. 

"Quite  sure." 

She  echoed  me,  not  hke  a  Hving  woman,  but  like  a  creature 
moved  by  machinery.  She  went  on  sweeping  all  the  time. 
I  took  away  the  broom  as  gently  and  as  kindly  as  I 
could. 

"Come,  come,  my  girl !"  I  said,  "this  is  not  like  yourself. 
You  have  got  something  on  your  mind.  I'm  your  friend — 
and  I'll  stand  your  friend,  even  if  you  have  done  wrong. 
Make  a  clean  breast  of  it,  Rosanna — make  a  clean  breast  of 
it !" 

The  time  had  been,  when  my  speaking  to  her  in  that  way 
would  have  brought  the  tears  into  her  eyes.  I  could  see  no 
change  in  them  now. 

"Yes,"  she  said,  "I'll  make  a  clean  breast  of  it." 

"To  my  lady?"  I  asked. 

"No." 

"To  Mr.  Franklin  ?" 

"Yes;  to  Mr.  FrankHn." 

I  hardly  knew  what  to  say  to  that.  She  was  in  no  condition 
to  understand  the  caution  against  speaking  to  him  in  private, 
which  Mr.  Franklin  had  directed  me  to  give  her.  Feeling 
my  way,  little  by  little,  I  only  told  her  Mr.  Franklin  had  gone 
out  for  a  walk. 

"It  doesn't  matter,"  she  answered.  "I  sha'n't  trouble  Mr. 
Franklin  to-day." 

"Why  not  speak  to  my  lady?"  I  said.  "The  way  to  re- 
lieve your  mind  is  to  speak  to  the  merciful  and  Christian 
mistress  who  has  always  been  kind  to  you." 

She  looked  at  me  for  a  moment  with  a  grave  and  steady 
attention,  as  if  she  was  fixing  what  I  said  in  her  mind.  Then 
she  took  the  broom  out  of  my  hands,  and  moved  off  with  it 
slowly,  a  little  way  down  the  corridor. 

"No,"  she  said,  going  on  with  her  sweeping,  and  speaking 
to  herself;  "T  know  a  better  way  of  relieving  my  mind  than 
that." 

"What  is  it?" 

"Please  to  let  me  go  on  with  my  work." 

Penelope  followed  her,  and  offered  to  help  her. 

164 


THE  MOONSTONE 

She  answered,  "No.  I  want  to  do  my  work.  Thank  you, 
Penelope."  She  looked  round  at  me.  "Thank  you,  Mr.  Bet- 
teredge." 

There  was  no  moving  her — there  was  nothing  more  to  be 
said.  I  signed  to  Penelope  to  come  away  with  me.  We  left 
her,  as  we  had  found  her,  sweeping  the  corridor  like  a  woman 
in  a  dream. 

"This  is  a  matter  for  the  doctor  to  look  into,-'  I  said.  "It's 
beyond  me." 

My  daughter  reminded  me  of  Mr.  Candy's  illness,  owing, 
as  you  may  remember,  to  the  chill  he  had  caught  on  the  night 
of  the  dinner-party.  His  assistant — a  certain  Mr.  Ezra  Jen- 
nings— was  at  our  disposal,  to  be  sure.  But  nobody  knew 
much  about  him  in  our  parts.  He  had  been  engaged  by  Mr. 
Candy  under  rather  peculiar  circumstances ;  and,  right  or 
wrong,  we  none  of  us  liked  him  or  trusted  him.  There  were 
other  doctors  at  Frizinghall.  But  they  were  strangers  to  our 
house ;  and  Penelope  doubted,  in  Rosanna's  present  state, 
whether  strangers  might  not  do  her  more  harm  than  good. 

I  thought  of  speaking  to  my  lady.  But,  remembering  the 
heavy  weight  of  anxiety  which  she  already  had  on  her  mind, 
I  hesitated  to  add  to  all  the  other  vexations  this  new  trouble. 
Still,  there  was  a  necessity  for  doing  something.  The  girl's 
state  was,  to  my  thinking,  downright  alarming — and  my  mis- 
tress ought  to  be  informed  of  it.  Unwillingly  enough  I  went 
to  her  sitting-room.  No  one  was  there.  My  lady  was  shut 
up  with  Miss  Rachel.  It  was  impossible  for  me  to  see  her 
till  she  came  out  again. 

I  waited  in  vain  till  the  clock  on  the  front  staircase  struck 
the  quarter  to  two.  Five  minutes  afterward  I  heard  my 
name  called  from  the  drive  outside  the  house.  I  knew  the 
voice  directly.    Sergeant  Cuff  had  returned  from  Frizinghall. 


CHAPTER  XVIII. 

GOING  down  to  the  front-door  I  met  the  Sergeant  on  the 
steps. 
It  went  against  the  grain  with  mc,  after  what  had  passed 
between  us,  to  show  him  that  I  felt  any  sort  of  interest  in 

165 


THE  MOONSTONE 

his  proceedings.  In  spite  of  myself,  however,  I  felt  an  inter- 
est that  there  was  no  resisting.  My  sense  of  dignity  sank 
from  under  me,  and  out  came  the  words,  "What  news  from 
Frizinghall  ?" 

*T  have  seen  the  Indians,"  answered  Sergeant  Cuff.  "And 
I  have  found  out  what  Rosanna  bought  privately  in  the  town 
on  Thursday  last.  The  Indians  will  be  set  free  on  Wednes- 
day in  next  week.  There  isn't  a  doubt  on  my  mind,  and  there 
isn't  a  doubt  on  Mr.  Murthwaite's  mind,  that  they  came  to 
this  place  to  steal  the  Moonstone.  Their  calculations  were 
all  thrown  out,  of  course,  by  what  happened  in  the  house  on 
Wednesday  night ;  and  they  have  no  more  to  do  with  the 
actual  loss  of  the  jewel  than  you  have.  But  I  can  tell  you  one 
thing,  Mr,  Betteredge — if  we  don't  find  the  Moonstone,  they 
will.    You  have  not  heard  the  last  of  the  three  jugglers  yet." 

Mr.  Franklin  came  back  from  his  walk  as  the  Sergeant 
said  those  startling  words.  Governing  his  curiosity  better 
than  I  had  governed  mine,  he  passed  us  without  a  word,  and 
went  on  into  the  house. 

As  for  me,  having  already  dropped  my  dignity,  I  deter- 
mined to  have  the  whole  benefit  of  the  sacrifice.  "So  much 
for  the  Indians,"  I  said.    "What  about  Rosanna,  next  ?" 

Sergeant  Cuff  shook  his  head. 

"The  mystery  in  that  quarter  is  thicker  than  ever,"  he 
said.  "I  have  traced  her  to  a  shop  at  Frizinghall,  kept  by  a 
linen-draper  named  Maltby.  She  bought  nothing  whatever 
at  any  of  the  other  drapers'  shops,  or  at  any  milliners'  or 
tailors'  shops ;  and  she  bought  nothing  at  Maltby's  but  a  piece 
of  long  cloth.  She  was  very  particular  in  choosing  a  certain 
quality.  As  to  quantity,  she  bought  enough  to  make  a  night- 
gown." 

"Whose  night-gown?"  I  asked. 

"Her  own,  to  be  sure.  Between  twelve  and  three,  on  the 
Thursday  morning,  she  must  have  slipped  down  to  your 
young  lady's  room  to  settle  the  hiding  of  the  Moonstone, 
while  all  the  rest  of  you  were  in  bed.  In  going  back  to  her 
own  room  her  night-gown  must  have  brushed  the  wet  paint 
on  the  door.  She  couldn't  wash  out  the  stain  ;  and  she  couldn't 
safely  destroy  the  night-gown — without  first  providing  an- 
other like  it,  to  make  the  inventory  of  her  linen  complete." 

i66 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"What  proves  that  it  was  Rosanna's  night-gown?"  I  ob- 
jected. 

"The  material  she  bought  for  making  the  substitute  dress," 
answered  the  Sergeant.  "If  it  had  been  Miss  Verinder's 
night-gown,  she  would  have  had  to  buy  lace,  and  frilling,  and 
Lord  knows  what  besides ;  and  she  wouldn't  have  had  time 
to  make  it  in  one  night.  Plain  long  cloth  means  a  plain 
servant's  night-gown.  No,  no,  Mr.  Betteredge — all  that  is 
clear  enough.  The  pinch  of  the  cjuestion  is — why,  after  hav- 
ing provided  the  substitute  dress,  does  she  hide  the  smeared 
night-gown,  instead  of  destroying  it?  If  the  girl  won't  speak 
out,  there  is  only  one  way  of  settling  the  difficulty.  The 
hiding-place  at  the  Shivering  Sand  must  be  searched — and 
the  true  state  of  the  case  will  be  discovered  there." 

"How  are  you  to  find  the  place?"  I  inquired. 

"I  am  sorry  to  disappoint  you,"  said  the  Sergeant — "but 
that's  a  secret  which  I  mean  to  keep  to  myself." 

Not  to  irritate  your  curiosity,  as  he  irritated  mine,  I  may 
here  inform  you  that  he  had  come  back  from  Frizinghall, 
provided  with  a  search-warrant.  His  experience  in  such  mat- 
ters told  him  that  Rosanna  was  in  all  probability  carrying 
about  her  a  memorandum  of  the  hiding-place  to  guide  her, 
in  case  she  returned  to  it,  under  changed  circumstances  and 
after  a  lapse  of  time.  Possessed  of  this  memorandum,  the 
Sergeant  would  be  furnished  with  all  that  he  could  desire. 

"Now,  Mr.  Betteredge,"  he  went  on,  "suppose  we  drop 
speculation,  and  get  to  business.  I  told  Joyce  to  have  an  eye 
on  Rosanna.     Where  is  Joyce?" 

Joyce  was  the  Frizinghall  policeman,  who  had  been  left 
by  Superintendent  Seegrave  at  Sergeant  Cuff's  disposal.  The 
clock  struck  two  as  he  put  the  question,  and,  punctual  to  the 
moment,  the  carriage  came  round  to  take  Miss  Rachel  to  her 
aunt's. 

"One  thing  at  a  time,"  said  the  Sergeant,  stopping  me  as 
I  was  about  to  send  in  search  of  Joyce.  "I  must  attend  to 
Miss  Verinder  first." 

As  the  rain  was  still  threatening,  it  was  the  close  carriage 
that  had  been  appointed  to  take  Miss  Rachel  to  Frizinghall. 
Sergeant  Cuff  beckoned  Samuel  to  come  down  to  him  from 
the  rumble  behind. 

167 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"You  will  see  a  friend  of  mine  waiting  among  the  trees, 
on  this  side  of  the  lodge-gate,"  he  said.  "My  friend,  with- 
out stopping  the  carriage,  will  get  up  into  the  rumble  with 
you.  You  have  nothing  to  do  but  to  hold  your  tongue,  and 
shut  your  eyes.    Otherwise,  you  will  get  into  trouble." 

With  that  advice  he  sent  the  footman  back  to  his  place. 
What  Samuel  thought,  I  don't  know.  It  was  plain,  to  my 
mind,  that  Miss  Rachel  was  to  be  privately  kept  in  view  from 
the  time  she  left  our  house — if  she  did  leave  it.  A  watch 
set  on  my  young  lady !  A  spy  behind  her  in  the  rumble  of 
her  mother's  carriage !  I  could  have  cut  my  own  tongue  out 
for  having  forgotten  myself  so  far  as  to  speak  to  Sergeant 
Cufif. 

The  first  person  to  come  out  of  the  house  was  my  lady. 
She  stood  aside,  on  the  top  step,  posting  herself  there  to  see 
what  happened.  Not  a  word  did  she  say,  either  to  the  Ser- 
geant or  to  me.  With  her  lips  closed,  and  her  arms  folded 
in  the  light  garden-cloak  which  she  had  wrapped  round  her 
on  coming  into  the  air,  there  she  stood,  as  still  as  a  statue, 
waiting  for  her  daughter  to  appear. 

In  a  minute  more  Miss  Rachel  came  down  stairs,  very 
nicely  dressed  in  some  soft  yellow  stufif  that  set  off  her  dark 
complexion,  and  clipped  her  tight,  in  the  form  of  a  jacket, 
round  the  waist.  She  had  a  smart  little  straw-hat  on  her 
head,  with  a  white  veil  twisted  round  it.  She  had  primrose- 
colored  gloves  that  fitted  her  hands  like  a  second  skin.  Her 
beautiful  black  hair  looked  as  smooth  as  satin  under  her  hat. 
Her  little  ears  were  like  rosy  shells — they  had  a  pearl  dangling 
from  each  of  them.  She  came  swiftly  out  to  us,  as  straight 
as  a  lily  on  its  stem,  and  as  lithe  and  supple  in  every  move- 
ment she  made  as  a  young  cat.  Nothing  that  I  could  dis- 
cover was  altered  in  her  pretty  face  but  her  eyes  and  her  lips. 
Her  eyes  were  brighter  and  fiercer  than  I  liked  to  see ;  and 
her  lips  had  so  completely  lost  their  color  and  their  smile  that 
I  hardly  knew  them  again.  She  kissed  her  mother  in  a  hasty 
and  sudden  manner  on  the  cheek.  She  said,  "Try  to  forgive 
me,  mamma — "  and  then  pulled  down  her  veil  over  her  face 
so  vehemently  that  she  tore  it.  In  another  moment  she  had 
run  down  the  steps,  and  had  rushed  into  the  carriage  as  if 
it  was  a  hiding-place. 


THE  MOONSTONE 

Sergeant  Cuff  was  just  as  quick  on  his  side.  He  put  Sam- 
uel back,  and  stood  before  Miss  Rachel,  with  the  open 
carriage-door  in  his  hand,  at  the  instant  when  she  settled 
herself  in  her  place. 

"What  do  you  want?"  says  Miss  Rachel,  from  behind  her 
veil. 

'T  want  to  say  one  word  to  you,  miss,"  answered  the  Ser- 
geant, "before  you  go.  I  can't  presume  to  stop  your  paying 
a  visit  to  your  aunt.  I  can  only  venture  to  say  that  your 
leaving  us,  as  things  are  now,  puts  an  obstacle  in  the  way  of 
my  recovering  your  Diamond.  Please  to  understand  that; 
and  now  decide  for  yourself  whether  you  go  or  stay." 

Miss  Rachel  never  even  answered  him.  "Drive  on,  James !" 
she  called  out  to  the  coachman. 

Without  another  word  the  Sergeant  shut  the  carriage- 
door.  Just  as  he  closed  it  Mr.  Franklin  came  running  down 
the  steps.  "Good-bye,  Rachel,"  he  said,  holding  out  his 
hand. 

"Drive  on !"  cried  Miss  Rachel,  louder  than  ever,  and  tak- 
ing no  more  notice  of  Mr.  Franklin  than  she  had  taken  of 
Sergeant  Cuff. 

Mr.  Franklin  stepped  back,  thunderstruck,  as  well  he  might 
be.  The  coachman,  not  knowing  what  to  do,  looked  toward 
my  lady,  still  standing  immovable  on  the  top  step.  My  lady, 
with  anger  and  sorrow  and  shame  all  struggling  together  in 
her  face,  made  him  a  sign  to  start  the  horses,  and  then  turned 
back  hastily  into  the  house.  Mr.  Franklin,  recovering  the 
use  of  his  speech,  called  after  her,  as  the  carriage  drove  off, 
"Aunt !  you  were  quite  right.  Accept  my  thanks  for  all  your 
kindness — and  let  me  go." 

My  lady  turned  as  though  to  speak  to  him.  Then,  as  if 
distrusting  herself,  waved  her  hand  kindly.  "Let  me  see  you 
before  you  leave  us,  Franklin,"  she  said,  in  a  broken  voice — 
and  went  on  to  her  own  room. 

"Do  me  a  last  favor,  Betteredge,"  says  Mr.  Franklin,  turn- 
ing to  me,  with  the  tears  in  his  eyes.  "Get  me  away  to  the 
train  as  soon  as  you  can !" 

He  too  went  his  way  into  the  house.  For  the  moment  Miss 
Rachel  had  completely  unmanned  him.  Judge  from  that  how 
fond  he  must  have  been  of  her ! 

169 


THE  MOONSTONE 

Sergeant  Cuff  and  I  were  left  face  to  face  at  the  bottom 
of  the  steps.  The  Sergeant  stood  with  his  face  set  toward  a 
gap  in  the  trees,  commanding  a  view  of  one  of  the  windings 
of  the  drive  which  led  from  the  house.  He  had  his  hands  in 
his  pockets,  and  he  was  softly  whistling  the  Last  Rose  of 
Summer  to  himself. 

"There's  a  time  for  every  thing,"  I  said,  savagely  enough. 
"This  isn't  a  time  for  whistling." 

At  that  moment  the  carriage  appeared  in  the  distance, 
through  the  gap,  on  its  way  to  the  lodge-gate.  There  was 
another  man  besides  Samuel  plainly  visible  in  the  rumble 
behind. 

"All  right !"  said  the  Sergeant  to  himself.  He  turned 
round  to  me.  "It's  no  time  for  whistling,  Mr.  Betteredge, 
as  you  say.  It's  time  to  take  this  business  in  hand  now  with- 
out sparing  any  body.  We'll  begin  with  Rosanna  Spearman. 
Where  is  Joyce?" 

We  both  called  for  Joyce,  and  received  no  answer.  I  sent 
one  of  the  stable-boys  to  look  for  him. 

"You  heard  what  I  said  to  Miss  Verinder?"  remarked  the 
Sergeant,  while  we  were  waiting.  "And  you  saw  how  she 
received  it?  I  tell  her  plainly  that  her  leaving  us  will  be  an 
obstacle  in  the  way  of  my  recovering  her  Diamond — and  she 
leaves,  in  the  face  of  that  statement!  Your  young  lady  has 
got  a  traveling  companion  in  her  mother's  carriage,  Mr.  Bet- 
teredge— and  the  name  of  it  is,  The  Moonstone." 

I  said  nothing.  I  only  held  on  like  death  to  my  belief  in 
Miss  Rachel. 

The  stable-boy  came  back,  followed — very  unwillingly,  as 
it  appeared  to  me — by  Joyce. 

"Where  is  Rosanna  Spearman?"  asked  Sergeant  Cuff. 

"I  can't  account  for  it,  sir,"  Joyce  began;  "and  I  am  very 
sorry.     But  somehow  or  other — " 

"Before  I  went  to  Frizinghall,"  said  the  Sergeant,  cutting 
him  short,  "I  told  you  to  keep  your  eye  on  Rosanna  Spear- 
man, without  allowing  her  to  discover  that  she  was  being 
watched.  Do  you  mean  to  tell  me  that  you  have  let  her  give 
you  the  slip?" 

"I  am  afraid,  sir,"  says  Joyce,  beginning  to  tremble,  "that 
I  was  perhaps  a  little  too  careful  not  to  let  her  discover  me. 

170 


THE  MOONSTONE 

There  are  such  a  many  passages  in  the  lower  parts  of  this 
house — " 

"How  long  is  it  since  you  missed  her?" 

"Nigh  on  an  hour  since,  sir." 

"You  can  go  back  to  your  regular  business  at  Frizing- 
hall,"  said  the  Sergeant,  speaking  just  as  composedly  as  ever, 
in  his  usual  quiet  and  dreary  way.  'T  don't  think  your  tal- 
ents are  at  all  in  our  line,  Mr.  Joyce.  Your  present  form  of 
employment  is  a  trifle  beyond  you.     Good-morning." 

The  man  slunk  off.  I  find  it  very  difficult  to  describe  how 
I  was  affected  by  the  discovery  that  Rosanna  Spearman  was 
missing.  I  seemed  to  be  in  fifty  different  minds  about  it,  all 
at  the  same  time.  In  that  state  I  stood  staring  at  Sergeant 
Cuff — and  my  powers  of  language  quite  failed  me. 

"No,  Mr.  Betteredge,"  said  the  Sergeant,  as  if  he  had  dis- 
covered the  uppermost  thought  in  me,  and  was  picking  it 
out  to  be  answered,  before  all  the  rest.  "Your  young  friend, 
Rosanna,  won't  slip  through  my  fingers  so  easily  as  you 
think.  As  long  as  I  know  where  Miss  Verinder  is,  I  have 
the  means  at  my  disposal  of  tracing  Miss  Verinder's  accom- 
plice. I  prevented  them  from  communicating  last  night. 
Very  good.  They  will  get  together  at  Frizinghall  instead 
of  getting  together  here.  The  present  inquiry  must  be  simply 
shifted,  rather  sooner  than  I  had  anticipated,  from  this  house 
to  the  house  at  which  Miss  Verinder  is  visiting.  In  the  mean 
time,  I'm  afraid  I  must  trouble  you  to  call  the  servants 
together  again." 

I  went  round  with  him  to  the  servants'  hall.  It  is  very 
disgraceful,  but  it  is  none  the  less  true,  that  I  had  another 
attack  of  the  detective-fever  when  he  said  those  last  words. 
I  forgot  that  I  hated  Sergeant  Cuff.  I  seized  him  confiden- 
tially by  the  arm,  I  said,  "For  goodness'  sake,  tell  us  what 
you  are  going  to  do  with  the  servants  now?" 

The  great  Cuff  stood  stock-still,  and  addressed  himself  in 
a  kind  of  melancholy  rapture  to  the  empty  air. 

"If  this  man,"  said  the  Sergeant,  apparently  meaning  me, 
"only  understood  the  growing  of  roses,  he  would  be  the  most 
completely  perfect  character  on  the  face  of  creation !"  After 
that  strong  expression  of  feeling  he  sighed,  and  put  his  arm 
through  mine.     "This  is  how  it  stands,"  he  said,  dropping 

171 


THE  MOONSTONE 

down  again  to  business.  "Rosanna  has  clone  one  of  two 
things.  She  has  either  gone  direct  to  Frizinghall,  before  I 
can  get  there,  or  she  has  gone  first  to  visit  her  hiding-place 
at  the  Shivering  Sand.  The  first  thing  to  find  out  is,  which 
of  the  servants  saw  the  last  of  her  before  she  left  the  house." 

On  instituting  this  inquiry,  it  turned  out  that  the  last 
person  who  had  set  eyes  on  Rosanna  was  Nancy,  the  kitchen- 
maid. 

Nancy  had  seen  her  slip  out  with  a  letter  in  her  hand, 
and  stop  the  butcher's  man,  who  had  just  been  deliv.ering 
some  meat  at  the  back-door.  Nancy  had  heard  her  ask  the 
man  to  post  the  letter  when  he  got  back  to  Frizinghall.  The 
man  had  looked  at  the  address,  and  had  said  it  was  a  round- 
about way  of  delivering  a  letter,  directed  to  Cobb's  Hole,  to 
post  it  at  Frizinghall — and  that,  moreover,  on  a  Saturday, 
which  would  prevent  the  letter  from  getting  to  its  destination 
until  Monday  morning.  Rosanna  had  answered  that  the  de- 
livery of  the  letter  being  delayed  till  Monday  was  of  no 
importance.  The  only  thing  she  wished  to  be  sure  of  was 
that  the  man  would  do  what  she  told  him.  The  man  had 
promised  to  do  it  and  had  driven  away.  Nancy  had  been 
called  back  to  her  work  in  the  kitchen.  And  no  other  person 
had  seen  any  thing  afterward  of  Rosanna  Spearman. 

"Well?"  I  asked,  when  we  were  alone  again. 

"Well,"  says  the   Sergeant.     "I  must  go  to  Frizinghall." 

"About  the  letter,  sir?" 

"Yes.  The  memorandum  of  the  hiding-place  is  in  that 
letter.  I  must  see  the  address  at  the  post-office.  If  it  is  the 
address  I  suspect,  I  shall  pay  our  friend  Mrs.  Yolland  another 
visit  on  Alonday  next." 

I  went  with  the  Sergeant  to  order  the  pony-chaise.  In 
the  stable-yard  we  got  a  new  light  thrown  on  the  missing 
girl. 


CHAPTER   XIX. 

THE  news   of  Rosanna's   disappearance  had,   as  it  ap- 
peared, spread  among  the  outdoor  servants.     They  too 
had  made  their  inquiries ;  and  they  had  just  laid  hands  on  a 

172 


THE  MOONSTONE 

quick  little  imp,  nicknamed  "Duffy" — who  was  occasionally 
employed  in  weeding  the  garden,  and  who  had  seen  Rosanna 
Spearman  as  lately  as  half  an  hour  since.  Duffy  was  certain 
that  the  girl  had  passed  him  in  the  fir-plantation,  not  walking, 
but  running,  in  the  direction  of  the  sea-shore. 

"Does  this  boy  know  the  coast  hereabouts?"  asked  Ser- 
geant Cuff. 

"He  has  been  born  and  bred  on  the  coast,"  I  answered. 

"Duffy !"  says  the  Sergeant,  "do  you  want  to  earn  a  shil- 
ling? If  you  do,  come  along  with  me.  Keep  the  pony-chaise 
ready,  Mr.  Betteredge,  till  I  come  back." 

He  started  for  the  Shivering  Sand  at  a  rate  that  my  legs, 
though  well  enough  preserved  for  my  time  of  life,  had  no 
hope  of  matching.  Little  Duffy,  as  the  way  is  with  the  young 
savages  in  our  parts  when  they  are  in  high  spirits,  gave  a 
howl,  and  trotted  off  at  the  Sergeant's  heels. 

Here,  again,  I  find  it  impossible  to  give  any  thing  like  a 
clear  account  of  the  state  of  my  mind  in  the  interval  after 
Sergeant  Cuff  had  left  us.  A  curious  and  stupefying  rest- 
lessness got  possession  of  me.  I  did  a  dozen  different  need- 
less things  in  and  out  of  the  house,  not  one  of  which  I  can 
now  remember.  I  don't  even  know  how  long  it  was  after 
the  Sergeant  had  gone  to  the  sands  when  Duffy  came  running 
back  with  a  message  for  me.  Sergeant  Cuff  had  given  the 
boy  a  leaf  torn  out  of  his  pocket-book,  on  which  was  written 
in  pencil,  "Send  me  one  of  Rosanna  Spearman's  boots,  and 
be  quick  about  it." 

I  dispatched  the  first  woman-servant  I  could  find  to  Ro- 
sanna's  room ;  and  I  sent  the  boy  back  to  say  that  I  myself 
would  follow  him  with  the  boot. 

This,  I  am  well  aware,  was  not  the  quickest  way  to  take 
of  obeying  the  directions  which  I  had  received.  But  I  was 
resolved  to  see  for  myself  what  new  mystification  was  going 
on,  before  I  trusted  Rosanna's  boot  in  the  Sergeant's  hands. 
My  old  notion  of  screening  the  girl  if  I  could  seemed  to  have 
come  back  on  me  again  at  the  eleventh  hour.  This  state  of 
feeling,  to  say  nothing  of  the  detective-fever,  hurried  me  off, 
as  soon  as  the  boot  was  put  in  my  hands,  at  the  nearest  ap- 
proach to  a  run  which  a  man  turned  seventy  can  reasonably 
hope  to  make. 

173 


THE  MOONSTONE 

As  T  got  near  the  shore  the  clouds  gathered  black  and  the 
rain  came  down,  drifting  in  great  white  sheets  of  water  before 
the  wind.  I  heard  the  thunder  of  the  sea  on  the  sand-bank, 
at  the  mouth  of  the  bay.  A  little  farther  on  I  passed  the  boy 
crouching  for  shelter  under  the  lee  of  the  sand-hills.  Then 
I  saw  the  raging  sea,  and  the  rollers  tumbling  in  on  the  sand- 
bank, and  the  driven  rain  sweeping  over  the  waters  like  a 
flying  garment,  and  the  yellow  wilderness  of  the  beach  with 
one  solitary  black  figure  standing  on  it — the  figure  of  Ser- 
geant Cufif. 

He  waved  his  hand  toward  the  north  when  he  first  saw 
me.  "Keep  on  that  side !"  he  shouted.  "And  come  on  down 
here  to  me !" 

I  went  down  to  him,  choking  for  breath,  with  my  heart 
leaping  as  if  it  was  like  to  leap  out  of  me.  I  was  past  speak- 
ing. I  had  a  hundred  questions  to  put  to  him ;  and  not  one 
of  them  would  pass  my  lips.  His  face  frightened  me.  I  saw 
a  look  in  his  eyes  which  was  a  look  of  horror.  He  snatched 
the  boot  out  of  my  hand,  and  set  it  in  a  foot-mark  on  the 
sand,  bearing  south  from  us  as  we  stood,  and  pointing  straight 
toward  the  rocky  ledge  called  the  South  Spit.  The  mark 
was  not  yet  blurred  out  by  the  rain — and  the  girl's  boot  fitted 
it  to  a  hair. 

The  Sergeant  pointed  to  the  boot  in  the  foot-mark,  without 
saying  a  word. 

I  caught  at  his  arm  and  tried  to  speak  to  him,  and  failed 
as  I  had  failed  when  I  tried  before.  He  went  on,  following 
the  footsteps  down  and  down  to  where  the  rocks  and  the 
sand  joined.  The  South  Spit  was  just  awash  with  the  flow- 
ing tide ;  the  waters  heaved  over  the  hidden  face  of  the 
Shivering  Sand.  Now  this  way  and  now  that,  with  an  obsti- 
nate silence  that  fell  on  you  like  lead,  with  an  obstinate 
patience  that  was  dreadful  to  see.  Sergeant  Cufif  tried  the 
boot  in  the  footsteps,  and  always  found  it  pointing  the  same 
way — straight  to  the  rocks.  Hunt  as  he  might,  no  sign  could 
he  find  anywhere  of  the  footsteps  walking  from  them. 

He  gave  it  up  at  last.  He  looked  again  at  me ;  and  then 
he  looked  out  at  the  waters  before  us,  heaving  in  deeper  and 
deeper  over  the  hidden  face  of  the  Shivering  Sand.  I  looked 
where  he  looked — and  T  saw  his  thought  in  his  face.     A 

174 


THE  MOONSTONE 

dreadful  dumb  trembling  crawled  all  over  me  on  a  sudden. 
I  fell  upon  my  knees  on  the  sand. 

"She  has  been  back  at  the  hiding-place,"  I  heard  the  Ser- 
geant say  to  himself.  "Some  fatal  accident  has  happened  to 
her  on  those  rocks." 

The  girl's  altered  looks,  and  words,  and  actions — the 
numbed,  deadened  way  in  which  she  listened  to  me  and  spoke 
to  me,  when  I  had  found  her  sweeping  the  corridor  but  a  few 
hours  since,  rose  up  in  my  mind  and  warned  me,  even  as  the 
Sergeant  spoke,  that  his  guess  was  wide  of  the  dreadful  truth. 
I  tried  to  tell  him  of  the  fear  that  had  frozen  me  up.  I 
tried  to  say,  "The  death  she  has  died.  Sergeant,  was  a  death 
of  her  own  seeking."  No !  the  words  wouldn't  come.  The 
dumb  trembling  held  me  in  its  grip.  I  couldn't  feel  the  driv- 
ing rain.  I  couldn't  see  the  rising  tide.  As  in  the  vision  of 
a  dream  the  poor  lost  creature  came  back  before  me.  I  saw 
her  again  as  I  had  seen  her  in  the  past  time — on  the  morning 
when  I  went  to  fetch  her  into  the  house.  I  heard  her  again, 
telling  me  that  the  Shivering  Sand  seemed  to  draw  her  to  it 
against  her  will,  and  wondering  whether  her  grave  was  wait- 
ing for  her  there.  The  horror  of  it  struck  at  me,  in 
some  unfathomable  way,  through  my  own  child.  My  girl 
was  just  her  age.  My  girl,  tried  as  Rosanna  was  tried, 
might  have  lived  that  miserable  life,  and  died  this  dreadful 
death. 

The  Sergeant  kindly  lifted  me  up  and  turned  me  away 
from  the  sight  of  the  place  where  she  had  perished. 

With  that  relief  I  began  to  fetch  my  breath  again,  and  to 
see  things  about  me  as  things  really  were.  Looking  toward 
the  sand-hills,  I  saw  the  men-servants  from  out-of-doors,  and 
the  fisherman  named  Yolland,  all  running  down  to  us  to- 
gether ;  and  all  having  taken  the  alarm,  calling  out  to  know 
if  the  girl  had  been  found.  In  the  fewest  words  the  Ser- 
geant showed  them  the  evidence  of  the  foot-marks,  and  told 
them  that  a  fatal  accident  must  have  happened  to  her.  He 
then  picked  out  the  fisherman  from  the  rest,  and  put  a  ques- 
tion to  him,  turning  about  again  toward  the  sea :  "Tell  me 
this,"  he  said.  "Could  a  boat  have  taken  her  off  from  that 
ledge  of  rock  where  her  foot-marks  stop  ?" 

The  fisherman  pointed  to  the  rollers  tumbling  in  on  the 

175 


THE  MOONSTONE 

sand-bank,  and  to  the  great  waves  leaping  up  in  clouds  of 
foam  against  the  headlands  on  either  side  of  us. 

"No  boat  that  ever  was  built,"  he  answered,  "could  have 
got  to  her  through  that." 

Sergeant  Cuff  looked  for  the  last  time  at  the  foot-marks 
on  the  sand,  which  the  rain  was  now  fast  blurring  out. 

"There,"  he  said,  "is  the  evidence  that  she  can't  have  left 
this  place  by  land.  And  here,"  he  went  on,  looking  at  the 
fisherman,  "is  the  evidence  that  she  can't  have  got  away  by 
sea."  He  stopped  and  considered  for  a  minute.  "She  was 
seen  running  toward  this  place,  half  an  hour  before  I  got 
here  from  the  house,"  he  said  to  Yolland.  "Some  time  has 
passed  since  then.  Call  it  altogether  an  hour  ago.  How  high 
would  the  water  be  at  that  time  on  this  side  of  the  rocks?" 
He  pointed  to  the  south  side — otherwise,  the  side  which  was 
not  filled  up  by  the  quicksand. 

"As  the  tide  makes  to-day,"  said  the  fisherman,  "there 
wouldn't  have  been  water  enough  to  drown  a  kitten  on  that 
side  of  the  Spit  an  hour  since." 

Sergeant  Cufif  turned  about  northward  toward  the  quick- 
sand. 

"How  much  on  this  side?"  he  asked. 

"Less  still,"  answered  Yolland.  "The  Shivering  Sand 
would  have  been  just  awash,  and  no  more." 

The  Sergeant  turned  to  me,  and  said  that  the  accident 
must  have  happened  on  the  side  of  the  quicksand.  My  tongue 
was  loosened  at  that.  "No  accident !"  I  told  him.  "When 
she  came  to  this  place  she  came,  weary  of  her  life,  to  end  it 
here." 

He  started  back  from  me.  "How  do  you  know?"  he 
asked.  The  rest  of  them  crowded  round.  The  Sergeant  re- 
covered himself  instantly.  He  put  them  back  from  me ;  he 
said  I  was  an  old  man ;  he  said  the  discovery  had  shaken  me ; 
he  said,  "Let  him  alone  a  little."  Then  he  turned  to  Yolland 
and  asked,  "Is  there  any  chance  of  finding  her  when  the  tide 
ebbs  again?"  And  Yolland  answered,  "None.  What  the 
Sand  gets  the  Sand  keeps  forever."  Having  said  that,  the 
fisherman  came  a  step  nearer  and  addressed  himself  to  me. 

"Mr.  Betteredge,"  he  said,  "I  have  a  word  to  say  to  you 
about  the  young  woman's  death.     Four  foot  out,  broadwise, 

176 


THE  MOONSTONE 

along  the  side  of  the  Spit,  there's  a  shelf  of  rock  about  half 
fathom  down  under  the  sand.  My  question  is — why  didn't 
she  strike  that?  If  she  slipped,  by  accident,  from  off  the 
Spit,  she  fell  in,  where  there's  foothold  at  the  bottom,  at  a 
depth  that  would  barely  cover  her  to  the  waist.  She  must 
have  waded  out,  or  jumped  out,  into  the  Deeps  beyond — or 
she  wouldn't  be  missing  now.  No  accident,  sir !  The  Deeps 
of  the  Quicksand  have  got  her.  And  they  have  got  her  by 
her  own  act." 

After  that  testimony  from  a  man  whose  knowledge  was 
to  be  relied  on  the  Sergeant  was  silent.  The  rest  of  us,  like 
him,  held  our  peace.  With  one  accord  we  all  turned  back 
up  the  slope  of  the  beach. 

At  the  sand-hillocks  we  were  met  by  the  under-groom, 
running  to  us  from  the  house.  The  lad  is  a  good  lad,  and 
has  an  honest  respect  for  me.  He  handed  me  a  little  note, 
with  a  decent  sorrow  in  his  face.  "Penelope  sent  me  with  this, 
Mr.  Betteredge,"  he  said.    "She  found  it  in  Rosanna's  room." 

It  was  her  last  farewell  word  to  the  old  man  who  had  done 
his  best — thank  God,  always  done  his  best — to  befriend  her. 

"You  have  often  forgiven  me,  Mr.  Betteredge,  in  past 
times.  When  you  next  see  the  Shivering  Sand,  try  to  for- 
give me  once  more.  I  have  found  my  grave  where  my  grave 
was  waiting  for  me.  I  have  lived,  and  died,  sir,  grateful  for 
your  kindness." 

There  was  no  more  than  that.  Little  as  it  was,  I  hadn't 
manhood  enough  to  hold  up  against  it.  Your  tears  come 
easy,  when  you're  young,  and  beginning  the  world.  Your 
tears  come  easy,  when  you're  old,  and  leaving  it.  I  burst  out 
crying. 

Sergeant  Cuff  took  a  step  nearer  to  me — meaning  kindly, 
I  don't  doubt.  I  shrank  back  from  him.  "Don't  touch  me," 
I  said.     "It's  the  dread  of  you  that  has  driven  her  to  it." 

"You  are  wrong,  Mr.  Betteredge,"  he  answered,  quietly. 
"But  there  will  be  time  enough  to  speak  of  it  when  we  are 
all  indoors  again." 

I  followed  the  rest  of  them  with  the  help  of  the  under- 
groom's  arm.  Through  the  driving  rain  we  went  back — to 
meet  the  trouble  and  the  terror  that  were  waiting  for  us  at 
the  house. 

177 


THE  MOONSTONE 


CHAPTER   XX. 

THOSE  in  front  had  spread  the  news  before  us.  We 
found  the  servants  in  a  state  of  panic.  As  we  passed 
my  lady's  door  it  was  thrown  open  violently  from  the  inner 
side.  My  mistress  came  out  among  us,  with  Mr.  Franklin 
following  and  trying  vainly  to  compose  her,  quite  beside  her- 
self with  the  horror  of  the  thing. 

*'You  are  answerable  for  this !"  she  cried  out,  threatening 
the  Sergeant  wildly  with  her  hand.  "Gabriel !  give  that 
wretch  his  money — and  release  me  from  the  sight  of  him !" 

The  Sergeant  was  the  only  one  among  us  who  was  fit  to 
cope  with  her — being  the  only  one  among  us  who  was  in 
possession  of  himself. 

"I  am  no  more  answerable  for  this  distressing  calamity, 
my  lady,  than  you  are,"  he  said.  "If,  in  half  an  hour  from 
this,  you  still  insist  on  my  leaving  the  house,  I  will  accept 
your  ladyship's  dismissal,  but  not  your  ladyship's  money." 

It  was  spoken  very  respectfully,  but  very  firmly  at  the  same 
time — and  it  had  its  efifect  on  my  mistress  as  well  as  on  me. 
She  suffered  Mr.  Franklin  to  lead  her  back  into  the  room. 
As  the  door  closed  on  the  two,  the  Sergeant,  looking  about 
among  the  women-servants  in  his  observant  way,  noticed  that, 
while  all  the  rest  were  merely  frightened,  Penelope  was  in 
tears.  "When  your  father  has  changed  his  wet  clothes,"  he 
said  to  her,  "come  and  speak  to  us  in  your  father's  room." 

Before  the  half  hour  was  out  I  had  got  my  dry  clothes  on, 
and  had  lent  Sergeant  Cuff  such  change  of  dress  as  he  re- 
quired. Penelope  came  in  to  us  to  hear  what  the  Sergeant 
wanted  with  her.  I  don't  think  I  ever  felt  what  a  good  duti- 
ful daughter  I  had  so  strongly  as  I  felt  it  at  that  moment. 
I  took  her  and  sat  her  on  my  knee — and  I  prayed  God  bless 
her.  She  hid  her  head  on  my  bosom,  and  put  her  arms  round 
my  neck — and  we  waited  a  little  while  in  silence.  The  poor 
dead  girl  must  have  been  at  the  bottom  of  it,  I  think,  with 
my  daughter  and  with  me.  The  Sergeant  went  to  the  window 
and  stood  there  looking  out.  I  thought  it  right  to  thank 
him  for  considering  us  both  in  this  way — and  I  did. 

People  in  high  life  have  all  the  luxuries  to  themselves— 


THE  MOONSTONE 

among  others  the  luxury  of  indulging  their  feelings.  People 
in  low  life  have  no  such  privilege.  Necessity,  which  spares 
our  betters,  has  no  pity  on  us.  We  learn  to  put  our  feelings 
back  into  ourselves,  and  to  jog  on  with  our  duties  as  patiently 
as  may  be.  I  don't  complain  of  this — I  only  notice  it.  Penel- 
ope and  I  were  ready  for  the  Sergeant  as  soon  as  the  Ser- 
geant was  ready  on  his  side.  Asked  if  she  knew  what  had 
led  her  fellow-servant  to  destroy  herself,  my  daughter  an- 
swered, as  you  will  foresee,  that  it  was  for  love  of  Mr.  Frank- 
lin Blake.  Asked  next  if  she  had  mentioned  this  notion  of 
hers  to  any  other  person,  Penelope  answered,  "I  have  not 
mentioned  it,  for  Rosanna's  sake."  I  felt  it  necessary  to  add 
a  word  to  this.  I  said,  "And  for  Mr.  Franklin's  sake,  my 
dear,  as  well.  If  Rosanna  has  died  for  love  of  him,  it  is  not 
with  his  knowledge  or  by  his  fault.  Let  him  leave  the  house 
to-day,  if  he  does  leave  it,  without  the  useless  pain  of  know- 
ing the  truth."  Sergeant  Cuff  said,  "Quite  right,"  and  fell 
silent  again ;  comparing  Penelope's  notion,  as  it  seemed  to 
me,  with  some  other  notion  of  his  own  which  he  kept  to  him- 
self. 

At  the  end  of  the  half  hour  my  mistress's  bell  rang. 

On  my  way  to  answer  it,  I  met  Mr.  Franklin  coming  out 
of  his  aunt's  sitting-room.  He  mentioned  that  her  ladyship 
was  ready  to  see  Sergeant  Cuff — in  my  presence  as  before — 
and  he  added  that  he  himself  wanted  to  say  two  words  to 
the  Sergeant  first.  On  our  way  back  to  my  room  he  stopped 
and  looked  at  the  railway  time-table  in  the  hall. 

"Are  you  really  going  to  leave  us,  sir?"  I  asked.  "Miss 
Rachel  will  surely  come  right  again,  if  you  only  give  her 
time." 

"She  will  come  right  again,"  answered  Mr.  Franklin, 
"when  she  hears  that  I  have  gone  away,  and  that  she  will 
see  me  no  more." 

I  thought  he  spoke  in  resentment  of  my  young  lady's  treat- 
ment of  him.  But  it  was  not  so.  My  mistress  had  noticed, 
from  the  time  when  the  police  first  came  into  the  house,  that 
the  bare  mention  of  him  was  enough  to  set  Miss  Rachel's 
temper  in  a  flame.  He  had  been  too  fond  of  his  cousin  to 
like  to  confess  this  to  himself,  until  the  truth  had  been  forced 
on  him  when  she  drove  off  to  her  aunt's.     His  eyes  once 

179 


THE  MOONSTONE 

opened  in  that  cruel  way  which  you  know  of,  Mr.  Franklin 
had  taken  his  resolution — the  one  resolution  which  a  man  of 
any  spirit  could  take — to  leave  the  house. 

What  he  had  to  say  to  the  Sergeant  was  spoken  in  my 
presence.  He  described  her  ladyship  as  willing  to  acknow- 
ledge that  she  had  spoken  overhastily.  And  he  asked  if  Ser- 
geant Cuff  would  consent — in  that  case — to  accept  his  fee, 
and  to  leave  the  matter  of  the  Diamond  where  the  matter 
stood  now.  The  Sergeant  answered,  "No,  sir.  My  fee  is 
paid  me  for  doing  my  duty.  I  decline  to  take  it  until  my  duty 
is  done." 

"I  don't  understand  you,"  says  Mr.  Franklin. 

"I'll  explain  myself,  sir,"  says  the  Sergeant.  "When  I 
came  here  I  undertook  to  throw  the  necessary  light  on  the 
matter  of  the  missing  Diamond.  I  am  now  ready,  and  wait- 
ing, to  redeem  my  pledge.  When  I  have  stated  the  case  to 
Lady  Verinder  as  the  case  now  stands,  and  when  I  have  told 
her  plainly  what  course  of  action  to  take  for  the  recovery  of 
the  Moonstone,  the  responsibility  will  be  off  my  shoulders. 
Let  her  ladyship  decide,  after  that,  whether  she  does,  or  does 
not,  allow  me  to  go  on.  I  shall  then  have  done  what  I  under- 
took to  do — and  Fll  take  my  fee." 

In  those  words  Sergeant  Cuff  reminded  us  that,  even  in 
the  Detective  Police,  a  man  may  have  a  reputation  to  lose. 

The  view  he  took  was  so  plainly  the  right  one  that  there 
was  no  more  to  be  said.  As  I  rose  to  conduct  him  to  my 
lady's  room,  he  asked  if  Mr.  Franklin  wished  to  be  present. 
Mr.  Franklin  answered,  "Not  unless  Lady  Verinder  desires 
it."  He  added,  in  a  whisper  to  me,  as  I  was  following  the 
Sergeant  out,  "I  know  what  that  man  is  going  to  say  about 
Rachel ;  and  I  am  too  fond  of  her  to  hear  it  and  keep  my 
temper.    Leave  me  by  myself." 

I  left  him,  miserable  enough,  leaning  on  the  sill  of  my  win- 
dow, with  his  face  hidden  in  his  hands — and  Penelope  peeping 
through  the  door,  longing  to  comfort  him.  In  ]\Ir.  Frank- 
lin's place,  I  should  have  called  her  in.  When  you  are  ill- 
used  by  one  woman  there  is  great  comfort  in  telling  it  to 
another — because,  nine  times  out  of  ten,  the  other  always 
takes  your  side.  Perhaps,  when  my  back  was  turned,  he  did 
call  her  in?    In  that  case  it  is  only  doing  my  daughter  jus- 

z8o 


THE  MOONSTONE 

tice  to  declare  that  she  would  stick  at  nothing  in  the  way 
of  comforting  Mr,  Franklin  Blake. 

In  the  mean  time  Sergeant  Cuff  and  I  proceeded  to  my 
lady's  room. 

At  the  last  conference  we  had  held  with  her  we  had  found 
her  not  overwilling  to  lift  her  eyes  from  the  book  which  she 
had  on  the  table.  On  this  occasion  there  was  a  change  for 
the  better.  She  met  the  Sergeant's  eye  with  an  eye  that  was 
as  steady  as  his  own.  The  family  spirit  showed  itself  in 
every  line  of  her  face ;  and  I  knew  that  Sergeant  Cuff  would 
meet  his  match  when  a  woman  like  my  mistress  was  strung 
up  to  hear  the  worst  he  could  say  to  her. 

The  first  words,  when  we  had  taken  our  seats,  were  spoken 
by  my  lady. 

"Sergeant  Cuff,"  she  said,  "there  was  perhaps  some  excuse 
for  the  inconsiderate  manner  in  which  I  spoke  to  you  half  an 
hour  since.  I  have  no  wish,  however,  to  claim  that  excuse. 
I  say,  with  perfect  sincerity,  that  I  regret  it,  if  I  wronged 
you." 

The  grace  of  voice  and  manner  with  which  she  made  him 
that  atonement  had  its  due  effect  on  the  Sergeant.  He  re- 
quested permission  to  justify  himself — putting  his  justifica- 
tion as  an  act  of  respect  to  my  mistress.  It  was  impossible, 
he  said,  that  he  could  be  in  any  way  responsible  for  the  calam- 
ity which  had  shocked  us  all,  for  this  sufficient  reason,  that 
his  success  in  bringing  his  inquiry  to  its  proper  end  depended 
on  his  neither  saying  nor  doing  any  thing  that  could  alarm 
Rosanna  Spearman.  He  appealed  to  me  to  testify  whether 
he  had,  or  had  not,  carried  that  object  out.  I  could,  and  did, 
bear  witness  that  he  had.  And  there,  as  I  thought,  the  mat- 
ter might  have  been  judiciously  left  to  come  to  an  end. 

Sergeant  Cuff,  however,  took  it  a  step  farther,  evidently, 
as  you  shall  now  judge,  with  the  purpose  of  forcing  the  most 
painful  of  all  possible  explanations  to  take  place  between  her 
ladyship  and   himself. 

"I  have  heard  a  motive  assigned  for  the  young  woman's 
suicide,"  said  the  Sergeant,  "which  may  possibly  be  the  right 
one.  It  is  a  motive  quite  unconnected  with  the  case  which 
I  am  conducting  here.  I  am  bound  to  add,  however,  that  my 
own  opinion  points  the  other  way.    Some  unbearable  anxiety, 

i8i 


THE  MOONSTONE 

in  connection  with  the  missing  Diamond,  has,  as  I  believe, 
driven  the  poor  creature  to  her  own  destruction.  I  don't  pre- 
tend to  know  what  that  unbearable  anxiety  may  have  been. 
But  I  think,  with  your  ladyship's  permission,  I  can  lay  my 
hand  on  a  person  who  is  capable  of  deciding  whether  I  am 
right  or  wrong." 

'Ts  the  person  now  in  the  house?"  my  mistress  asked,  after 
waiting  a  little. 

"The  person  has  left  the  house,  my  lady." 

That  answer  pointed  as  straight  to  Miss  Rachel  as  straight 
could  be.  A  silence  dropped  on  us  which  I  thought  would 
never  come  to  an  end.  Lord !  how  the  wind  howled,  and  how 
the  rain  drove  at  the  window,  as  I  sat  there  waiting  for  one 
or  more  of  them  to  speak  again ! 

"Be  so  good  as  to  express  yourself  plainly,"  said  my  lady. 
"Do  you  refer  to  my  daughter?" 

"I  do,"  said  Sergeant  Cuff,  in  so  many  words. 

My  mistress  had  her  check-book  on  the  table  when  we 
entered  the  room — no  doubt  to  pay  the  Sergeant  his  fee.  She 
now  put  it  back  in  the  drawer.  It  went  to  my  heart  to  see 
how  her  poor  hand  trembled — the  hand  that  had  loaded  her 
old  servant  with  benefits ;  the  hand  that,  I  pray  God,  may 
take  mine,  when  my  time  comes,  and  I  leave  my  place  for- 
ever! 

'T  had  hoped,"  said  my  lady,  very  slowly  and  quietly,  "to 
have  recompensed  your  services,  and  to  have  parted  with  you 
without  Miss  Verinder's  name  having  been  openly  mentioned 
between  us  as  it  has  been  mentioned  now.  My  nephew  has 
probably  said  something  of  this  before  you  came  into  my 
room  ?" 

"Mr.  Blake  gave  his  message,  my  lady.  And  I  gave  Mr. 
Blake  a  reason — " 

"It  is  needless  to  tell  me  your  reason.  After  what  you 
have  just  said,  you  know  as  well  as  I  do  that  you  have  gone 
too  far  to  go  back.  I  owe  it  to  myself,  and  I  owe  it  to  my 
child,  to  insist  on  your  remaining  here,  and  to  insist  on  your 
speaking  out." 

The  Sergeant  looked  at  his  watch. 

"If  there  had  been  time,  my  lady,"  he  answered,  "I  should 
have  preferred  writing  my  report,  instead  of  communicating 

182 


THE  MOONSTONE 

it  by  word  of  mouth.  But,  if  this  inquiry  is  to  go  on,  time 
is  of  too  much  importance  to  be  wasted  in  writing.  I  am 
ready  to  go  into  the  matter  at  once.  It  is  a  very  painful 
matter  for  me  to  speak  of,  and  for  you  to  hear — " 

There  my  mistress  stopped  him  once  more. 

"I  may  possibly  make  it  less  painful  to  you,  and  to  my 
good  servant  and  friend  here,"  she  said,  "if  I  set  the  example 
of  speaking  boldly  on  my  side.  You  suspect  Miss  Verinder 
of  deceiving  us  all  by  secreting  the  Diamond  for  some  pur- 
pose of  her  own  ?     Is  that  true  ?" 

"Quite  true,  my  lady." 

"Very  well.  Now,  before  you  begin,  I  have  to  tell  you, 
as  Miss  Verinder's  mother,  that  she  is  absolutely  incapable 
of  doing  what  you  suppose  her  to  have  done.  Your  knowledge 
of  her  character  dates  from  a  day  or  two  since.  My  know- 
ledge of  her  character  dates  from  the  beginning  of  her  life. 
State  your  suspicion  of  her  as  strongly  as  you  please — it  is 
impossible  that  you  can  offend  me  by  doing  so.  I  am  sure, 
beforehand,  that,  with  all  your  experience,  the  circumstances 
have  fatally  misled  you  in  this  case.  Mind !  I  am  in  posses- 
sion of  no  private  information.  I  am  as  absolutely  shut  out 
of  my  daughter's  confidence  as  you  are.  My  one  reason  for 
speaking  positively  is  the  reason  you  have  heard  already.  I 
know  my  child." 

She  turned  to  me,  and  gave  me  her  hand.  I  kissed  it  in 
silence.  "You  may  go  on,"  she  said,  facing  the  Sergeant 
again  as  steadily  as  ever. 

Sergeant  Cufif  bowed.  My  mistress  had  produced  but  one 
effect  on  him.  His  hatchet-face  softened  for  a  moment,  as  if 
he  was  sorry  for  her.  As  to  shaking  him  in  his  own  con- 
viction, it  was  plain  to  see  that  she  had  not  moved  him  by  a 
single  inch.  He  settled  himself  in  his  chair,  and  he  began 
his  vile  attack  on  Miss  Rachel's  character  in  these  words : 

"I  must  ask  your  ladyship,"  he  said,  "to  look  this  matter 
in  the  face,  from  my  point' of  view  as  well  as  from  yours. 
Will  you  please  to  suppose  yourself  coming  down  here,  in 
my  place,  and  with  my  experience?  and  will  you  allow  me 
to  mention  very  briefly  what  that  experience  has  been?" 

My  mistress  signed  to  him  that  she  would  do  this.  The 
Sergeant  went  on : 

183 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"For  the  last  twenty  years,"  he  said,  "I  have  been  largely 
employed  in  cases  of  family  scandal,  acting  in  the  capacity 
of  confidential  man.  The  one  result  of  my  domestic  practice 
which  has  any  bearing  on  the  matter  now  in  hand  is  a  result 
which  I  may  state  in  two  words.  It  is  well  within  my  ex- 
perience that  young  ladies  of  rank  and  position  do  occasion- 
ally have  private  debts  which  they  dare  not  acknowledge  to 
their  nearest  relatives  and  friends.  Sometimes  the  milliner 
and  jeweler  are  at  the  bottom  of  it.  Sometimes  the  money 
is  wanted  for  purposes  which  I  don't  suspect  in  this  case, 
and  which  I  won't  shock  you  by  mentioning.  Bear  in  mind 
what  I  have  said,  my  lady — and  now  let  us  see  how  events 
in  this  house  have  forced  me  back  on  my  own  experience, 
whether  I  liked  it  or  not !" 

He  considered  with  himself  for  a  moment,  and  went  on — 
with  a  horrid  clearness  that  forced  you  to  understand  him ; 
with  an  abominable  justice  that  favored  nobody. 

"My  first  information  relating  to  the  loss  of  the  Moon- 
stone," said  the  Sergeant,  "came  to  me  from  Superintendent 
Seegrave.  He  proved  to  my  complete  satisfaction  that  he 
was  perfectly  incapable  of  managing  the  case.  The  one  thing 
he  said  which  struck  me  as  worth  listening  to  was  this — that 
Miss  Verinder  had  declined  to  be  questioned  by  him,  and  had 
spoken  to  him  with  a  perfectly  incomprehensible  rudeness  and 
contempt.  I  thought  this  curious — but  I  attributed  it  mainly 
to  some  clumsiness  on  the  Superintendent's  part  which  might 
have  ofifended  the  young  lady.  After  that  I  put  it  by  in  my 
mind,  and  applied  myself,  single-handed,  to  the  case.  It 
ended,  as  you  are  aware,  in  the  discovery  of  the  smear  on  the 
door,  and  in  Mr.  Franklin  Blake's  evidence  satisfying  me  that 
this  same  smear,  and  the  loss  of  the  Diamond,  were  pieces  of 
the  same  puzzle.  So  far,  if  I  suspected  any  thing,  I  sus- 
pected that  the  Moonstone  had  been  stolen,  and  that  one  of 
the  servants  might  prove  to  be  the  thief.  Very  good.  In 
this  state  of  things,  what  happens?  Miss  Verinder  suddenly 
comes  out  of  her  room,  and  speaks  to  me.  I  observe  three 
suspicious  appearances  in  that  young  lady.  She  is  still  vio- 
lently agitated,  though  more  than  four-and-twenty  hours 
have  passed  since  the  Diamond  was  lost.  She  treats  me  as 
she  has  already  treated  Superintendent  Seegrave.     And  she 

184 


THE  MOONSTONE 

is  mortally  ofifended  with  Mr.  Franklin  Blake.  Very  good 
again.  Here,  I  say  to  myself,  is  a  young  lady  who  has  lost 
a  valuable  jewel — a  young  lady,  also,  as  my  own  eyes  and 
ears  inform  me,  who  is  of  an  impetuous  temperament.  Under 
these  circumstances,  and  with  that  character,  what  does  she 
do?  She  betrays  an  incomprehensible  resentment  against 
Mr.  Blake,  Mr.  Superintendent,  and  myself — otherwise,  the 
very  three  people  who  have  all,  in  their  different  ways,  been 
trying  to  help  her  to  recover  her  lost  jewel.  Having  brought 
my  inquiry  to  that  point — then,  my  lady,  and  not  till  then, 
I  begin  to  look  back  into  my  own  mind  for  my  own  experi- 
ence. My  own  experience  explains  Miss  Verinder's  other- 
wise incomprehensible  conduct.  It  associates  her  with  those 
other  young  ladies  that  I  know  of.  It  tells  me  she  has  debts 
she  daren't  acknowledge,  that  must  be  paid.  And  it  sets  me 
asking  myself,  whether  the  loss  of  the  Diamond  may  not 
mean — that  the  Diamond  must  be  secretly  pledged  to  pay 
them.  That  is  the  conclusion  which  my  experience  draws 
from  plain  facts.  What  does  your  ladyship's  experience  say 
against  it?" 

"What  I  have  said  already,"  answered  my  mistress.  "The 
circumstances  have  misled  you." 

I  said  nothing  on  my  side.  Robinson  Crusoe — God  knows 
how — had  got  into  my  muddled  old  head.  If  Sergeant  Cuff 
had  found  himself,  at  that  moment,  transported  to  a  desert 
island,  without  a  man  Friday  to  keep  him  company,  or  a  ship 
to  take  him  off,  he  would  have  found  himself  exactly  where 
I  wished  him  to  be!  (Nota  bene:  I  am  an  average  good 
Christian,  when  you  don't  push  my  Christianity  too  far.  And 
all  the  rest  of  you — which  is  a  great  comfort — are,  in  this 
respect,  much  the  same  as  I  am.) 

Sergeant  Cuff  went  on : 

"Right  or  wrong,  my  lady,"  he  said,  "having  drawn  my 
conclusion,  the  next  thing  to  do  was  to  put  it  to  the  test.  I 
suggested  to  your  ladyship  the  examination  of  all  the  ward- 
robes in  the  house.  It  was  a  means  of  finding  the  article  of 
dress  which  had,  in  all  probability,  made  the  smear;  and  it 
was  a  means  of  putting  my  conclusion  to  the  test.  How  did 
it  turn  out?  Your  ladyship  consented;  Mr.  Blake  consented; 
Mr.  Ablewhite  consented.     Miss  Verinder  alone  stopped  the 


THE  MOONSTONE 

whole  proceeding  by  refusing  point-blank.  That  result  satis- 
fied me  that  my  view  was  the  right  one.  If  your  ladyship 
and  Mr.  Betteredge  persist  in  not  agreeing  with  me,  you 
must  be  blind  to  what  happened  before  you  this  very  day.  In 
your  hearing,  I  told  the  young  lady  that  her  leaving  the 
liouse,  as  things  were  then,  would  put  an  obstacle  in  the  way 
of  my  recovering  her  jewel.  You  saw  yourselves  that  she 
drove  off  in  the  face  of  that  statement.  You  saw  yourselves 
that,  so  far  from  forgiving  Mr.  Blake  for  having  adone  more 
than  all  the  rest  of  you  to  put  the  clue  into  my  hands,  she 
publicly  insulted  Mr.  Blake,  on  the  steps  of  her  mother's 
house.  What  do  these  things  mean?  If  Miss  Verinder  is 
not  privy  to  the  suppression  of  the  Diamond,  what  do  these 
things  mean?" 

This  time  he  looked  my  way.  It  was  downright  frightful 
to  hear  him  piling  up  proof  after  proof  against  Miss  Rachel, 
and  to  know,  while  one  was  longing  to  defend  her,  that  there 
was  no  disputing  the  truth  of  what  he  said.  I  am — thank 
God ! — constitutionally  superior  to  reason.  This  enabled  me 
to  hold  firm  to  my  lady's  view,  which  was  my  view  also.  This 
roused  my  spirit,  and  made  me  put  a  bold  face  on  it  before 
Sergeant  CufT.  Profit,  good  friends,  I  beseech  you,  by  my 
example.  It  will  save  you  from  many  troubles  of  the  vexing 
sort.  Cultivate  a  superiority  to  reason,  and  see  how  you  pare 
the  claws  of  all  the  sensible  people  when  they  try  to  scratch 
you  for  your  own  good ! 

Finding  that  I  made  no  remark,  and  that  my  mistress  made 
no  remark,  Sergeant  Cuff  proceeded.  Lord !  how  it  did  en- 
rage me  to  notice  that  he  was  not  in  the  least  put  out  by  our 
silence ! 

"There  is  the  case,  my  lady,  as  it  stands  against  Miss 
Verinder  alone,"  he  said.  'The  next  thing  is  to  put  the  case 
as  it  stands  against  Miss  Verinder  and  the  deceased  Rosanna 
Spearman,  taken  together.  We  will  go  back  for  a  moment, 
if  you  please,  to  your  daughter's  refusal  to  let  her  wardrobe 
be  examined.  My  mind  being  made  up  after  that  circum- 
stance, I  had  two  questions  to  consider  next.  First,  as  to  the 
right  method  of  conducting  my  inquiry.  Second,  as  to 
whether  Miss  Verinder  had  an  accomplice  among  the  female 
servants  in  the  house.    After  carefully  thinking  it  over,  I  de- 

i86 


THE  MOONSTONE 

termined  to  conduct  the  inquiry  in,  what  we  should  call  at 
our  office,  a  highly  irregular  manner;  for  this  reason:  I  had 
a  family  scandal  to  deal  with,  which  it  was  my  business  to 
keep  within  the  family  limits.  The  less  noise  made,  and  the 
fewer  strangers  employed  to  help  me,  the  better.  As  to  the 
usual  course  of  taking  people  in  custody  on  suspicion,  going 
before  the  magistrate,  and  all  the  rest  of  it — nothing  of  the 
sort  was  to  be  thought  of,  when  your  ladyship's  daughter  was, 
as  I  believe,  at  the  bottom  of  the  whole  business.  In  this 
case,  I  felt  that  a  person  of  Mr.  Betteredge's  character  and 
position  in  the  house — knowing  the  servants  as  he  did,  and 
having  the  honor  of  the  family  at  heart — would  be  safer  to 
take  as  an  assistant  than  any  other  person  whom  I  could  lay 
my  hand  on.  I  should  have  tried  Mr.  Blake  as  well — but 
for  one  obstacle  in  the  way.  He  saw  the  drift  of  my  pro- 
ceedings at  a  very  early  date;  and,  with  his  interest  in  Miss 
Verinder,  any  mutual  understanding  was  impossible  between 
him  and  me.  I  trouble  your  ladyship  with  these  particulars 
to  show  you  that  I  have  kept  the  family  secret  within  the 
farnily  circle.  I  am  the  only  outsider  who  knows  it — and  my 
professional  existence  depends  on  holding  my  tongue." 

Here  I  felt  that  my  professional  existence  depended  on  not 
holding  wzy  tongue.  To  be  held  up  before  my  mistress,  in 
my  old  age,  as  a  sort  of  deputy-policeman  was,  once  again, 
more  than  my  Christianity  was  strong  enough  to  bear. 

"I  beg  to  inform  your  ladyship,"  I  said,  "that  I  never,  to 
my  knowledge,  helped  this  abominable  detective  business,  in 
any  way,  from  first  to  last ;  and  I  summon  Sergeant  CufT  to 
contradict  me,  if  he  dares !" 

Having  given  vent  in  those  words,  I  felt  greatly  relieved. 
Her  ladyship  honored  me  by  a  little  friendly  pat  on  the  shoul- 
der. I  looked  with  righteous  indignation  at  the  Sergeant 
to  see  what  he  thought  of  such  a  testimony  as  that!  The 
Sergeant  looked  back  like  a  Iamb,  and  seemed  to  like  me  bet- 
ter than  ever. 

My  lady  informed  him  that  he  might  continue  his  state- 
ment. "I  understand,"  she  said,  "that  you  have  honestly  done 
your  best,  in  what  you  believed  to  be  my  interest.  I  am  ready 
to  hear  what  you  have  to  say  next." 

"What  I  have  to  say  next,"  answered  Sergeant  Cuflf,  "re- 

187 


THE  MOONSTONE 

lates  to  Rosanna  Spearman.  I  recognized  the  young  woman, 
as  your  ladyship  may  remember,  when  she  brought  the  wash- 
ing-book into  this  room.  Up  to  that  time  I  was  inchned  to 
doubt  whether  Miss  Vcrinder  had  trusted  her  secret  to  any 
one.  When  I  saw  Rosanna  I  altered  my  mind.  I  suspected 
her  at  once  of  being  privy  to  the  suppression  of  the  Diamond. 
The  poor  creature  has  met  her  death  by  a  dreadful  end,  and 
I  don't  want  your  ladyship  to  think,  now  she's  gone,  that  I 
was  unduly  hard  on  her.  If  this  had  been  a  common  case  of 
thieving,  I  should  have  given  Rosanna  the  benefit  of  the  doubt 
just  as  freely  as  I  should  have  given  it  to  any  of  the  other 
servants  in  the  house.  Our  experience  of  the  reformatory 
women  is,  that  when  tried  in  service — and  when  kindly  and 
judiciously  treated — they  prove  themselves  in  the  majority  of 
cases  to  be  honestly  penitent,  and  honestly  worthy  of  the  pains 
taken  with  them.  But  this  was  not  a  common  case  of  thiev- 
ing. It  was  a  case — in  my  mind — of  a  deeply  planned  fraud, 
with  the  owner  of  the  Diamond  at  the  bottom  of  it.  Holding 
this  view,  the  first  consideration  which  naturally  presented 
itself  to  me,  in  connection  with  Rosanna,  was  this.  Would 
Miss  Verinder  be  satisfied,  begging  your  ladyship's  pardon, 
with  leading  us  all  to  think  that  the  Moonstone  was  merely 
lost?  Or  would  she  go  a  step  farther,  and  delude  us  into  be- 
lieving that  the  Moonstone  was  stolen?  In  the  latter  event, 
there  was  Rosanna  Spearman — with  the  character  of  a  thief 
— ready  to  her  hand ;  the  person  of  all  others  to  lead  your 
ladyship  off,  and  to  lead  me  ofif,  on  a  false  scent." 

Was  it  possible,  1  asked  myself,  that  he  could  put  his  case 
against  Miss  Rachel  and  Rosanna  in  a  more  horrid  point  of 
view  than  this?    It  zvas  possible,  as  you  shall  now  see. 

"I  had  another  reason  for  suspecting  the  deceased  woman," 
he  said,  "which  appears  to  me  to  have  been  stronger  still. 
Who  would  be  the  very  person  to  help  Miss  Verinder  in 
raising  money  privately  on  the  Diamond?  Rosanna  Spear- 
man. No  young  lady  in  Miss  Verinder's  position  could  man- 
age such  a  risky  matter  as  that  by  herself.  A  go-between 
she  must  have,  and  who  so  fit,  I  ask  again,  as  Rosanna  Spear- 
man? Your  ladyship's  deceased  house-maid  was  at  the  top 
of  her  profession  when  she  was  a  thief.  She  had  relations, 
to  my  certain  knowledge,  with  one  of  the  few  men  in  London, 


THE  MOONSTONE 

in  the  money-lending  line,  who  would  advance  a  large  sum 
on  such  a  notable  jewel  as  the  Moonstone,  without  asking 
awkward  questions,  or  insisting  on  awkward  conditions. 
Bear  this  in  mind,  my  lady ;  and  now  let  me  show  you  how 
my  suspicions  have  been  justified  by  Rosanna's  own  acts,  and 
by  the  plain  inferences  to  be  drawn  from  them." 

He  thereupon  passed  the  whole  of  Rosanna's  proceedings 
under  review.  You  are  already  as  well  acquainted  with 
those  proceedings  as  I  am ;  and  you  will  understand  how  un- 
answerably this  part  of  his  report  fixed  the  guilt  of  being  con- 
cerned in  the  disappearance  of  the  Moonstone  on  the  memory 
of  the  poor  dead  girl.  Even  my  mistress  was  daunted  by 
what  he  said  now.  She  made  him  no  answer  when  he  had 
done.  It  didn't  seem  to  matter  to  the  Sergeant  whether  he 
was  answered  or  not.  On  he  went — devil  take  him! — just 
as  steady  as  ever. 

"Having  stated  the  whole  case  as  I  understand  it,"  he  said, 
"1  have  only  to  tell  your  ladyship,  now,  what  I  propose  to  do 
next.  I  see  two  ways  of  bringing  this  inquiry  successfully  to 
an  end.  One  of  those  ways  I  look  upon  as  a  certainty.  The 
other,  I  admit,  is  a  bold  experiment,  and  nothing  more.  Your 
ladyship  shall  decide.     Shall  we  take  the  certainty  first?" 

My  mistress  made  him  a  sign  to  take  his  own  way,  and 
choose  for  himself. 

"Thank  you,"  said  the  Sergeant.  "We'll  begin  with  the 
certainty,  as  your  ladyship  is  so  good  as  to  leave  it  to  me. 
Whether  Miss  Verinder  remains  at  Frizinghall,  or  whether 
she  returns  here,  I  propose,  in  either  case,  to  keep  a  careful 
watch  on  all  her  proceedings — on  the  people  she  sees,  on  the 
rides  or  walks  she  may  take,  and  on  the  letters  she  may  write 
or  receive." 

"What  next?"  asked  my  mistress. 

"I  shall  next,"  answered  the  Sergeant,  "request  your  ladv- 
ship's  leave  to  introduce  into  the  house,  as  a  servant  in  the 
place  of  Rosanna  Spearman,  a  woman  accustomed  to  private 
inquiries  of  this  sort,  for  whose  discretion  I  can  answer." 

"What  next?"  repeated  my  mistress. 

"Next,"  proceeded  the  Sergeant,  "and  last,  I  propose  to 
send  one  of  my  brother-officers  to  make  an  arrangement  with 
that  money-lender  in  London,  whom  I  mentioned  just  now 

189 


THE  MOONSTONE 

as  formerly  acquainted  with  Rosanna  Spearman — and  whose 
name  and  address,  your  ladyship  may  rely  on  it,  have  been 
communicated  by  Rosanna  to  Miss  Verindcr.  1  don't  deny 
that  the  course  of  action  I  am  now  suggesting  will  cost  money 
and  consume  time.  But  the  result  is  certain.  We  run  a  line 
round  the  Moonstone,  and  we  draw  that  line  closer  and  closer 
till  we  find  it  in  Miss  Verinder's  possession,  supposing  she 
decides  to  keep  it.  If  her  debts  press,  and  she  decides  on 
sending  it  away,  then  we  have  our  man  ready,  and  we  meet 
the  Moonstone  on  its  arrival  in  London." 

To  hear  her  own  daughter  made  the  subject  of  such  a  pro- 
posal as  this  stung  my  mistress  into  speaking  angrily  for  the 
first  time. 

"Consider  your  proposal  declined,  in  every  particular,"  she 
said.  "And  go  on  to  your  other  way  of  bringing  the  inquiry 
to  an  end." 

"My  other  way,"  said  the  Sergeant,  going  on  as  easy  as 
ever,  "is  to  try  that  bold  experiment  to  which  I  have  alluded. 
I  think  I  have  formed  a  pretty  correct  estimate  of  Miss  Verin- 
der's temperament.  She  is  quite  capable,  according  to  my  be- 
lief, of  committing  a  daring  fraud.  But  she  is  too  hot  and 
impetuous  in  temper,  and  too  little  accustomed  to  deceit  as 
a  habit,  to  act  the  hypocrite  in  small  things,  and  to  restrain 
herself  under  all  provocations.  Her  feelings,  in  this  case, 
have  repeatedly  got  beyond  her  control,  at  the  very  time 
when  it  was  plainly  her  interest  to  conceal  them.  It  is  on 
this  peculiarity  in  her  character  that  I  now  propose  to  act. 
I  want  to  give  her  a  great  shock  suddenly,  under  circum- 
stances which  will  touch  her  to  the  quick.  In  plain  English, 
I  want  to  tell  Miss  Verinder,  without  a  word  of  warning,  of 
Rosanna's  death,  on  the  chance  that  her  own  better  feelings 
will  hurry  her  into  making  a  clean  breast  of  it.  Does  your 
ladyship  accept  that  alternative?" 

My  mistress  astonished  me  beyond  all  power  of  expression. 
She  answered  him  on  the  instant : 

"Yes ;  I  do." 

"The  pony-chaise  is  ready."  said  the  Sergeant.  "I  wish 
your  ladyship  good-morning." 

My  lady  held  up  her  hand,  and  stopped  him  at  the  door. 

"My  daughter's  better  feelings  shall  be  appealed  to,  as  you 

igo 


THE  MOONSTONE 

propose,"'  she  said.  "But  I  claim  the  right,  as  her  mother, 
of  putting  her  to  the  test  myself.  You  will  remain  here,  if 
you  please ;  and  I  will  go  to  Frizinghall." 

For  once  in  his  life  the  great  Cuff  stood  speechless  with 
amazement,  like  an  ordinary  man. 

My  mistress  rang  the  bell  and  ordered  her  water-proof 
things.  It  was  still  pouring  with  rain ;  and  the  close  carriage 
had  gone,  as  you  know,  with  Miss  Rachel  to  Frizinghall.  I 
tried  to  dissuade  her  ladyship  from  facing  the  severity  of  the 
weather.  Quite  useless !  I  asked  leave  to  go  with  her  and 
hold  the  umbrella.  She  wouldn't  hear  of  it.  The  pony-chaise 
came  round,  with  the  groom  in  charge.  "You  may  rely  on 
two  things,"  she  said  to  Sergeant  Cuff,  in  the  hall :  "I  will 
try  the  experiment  on  Miss  Verinder  as  boldly  as  you  could 
try  it  yourself.  And  I  will  inform  you  of  the  result,  either 
personally  or  by  letter,  before  the  last  train  leaves  for  London 
to-night." 

With  that  she  stepped  into  the  chaise,  and,  taking  the  reins 
herself,  drove  off  to  Frizinghall. 


CHAPTER  XXI. 

MY  mistress  having  left  us,  I  had  leisure  to  think  of  Ser- 
geant Cuff.  I  found  him  sitting  in  a  snug  corner  of 
the  hall  consulting  his  memorandum-book,  and  curling  up 
viciously  at  the  corners  of  the  lips. 

"Making  notes  of  the  case?"  I  asked. 

"No,"  said  the  Sergeant.  "Looking  to  see  what  my  next 
professional  engagement  is." 

"Oh!"  I  said.    "You  think  it's  all  over,  then,  here?" 

"I  think,"  answered  Sergeant  Cuff,  "that  Lady  Verinder 
is  one  of  the  cleverest  women  in  England.  I  also  think  a  rose 
much  better  worth  looking  at  than  a  diamond.  Where  is  the 
gardener,  Mr.  Betteredge?" 

There  was  no  getting  a  word  more  out  of  him  on  the  mat- 
ter of  the  Moonstone.  He  had  lost  all  interest  in  his  own 
inquiry;  and  he  would  persist  in  looking  for  the  gardener, 

191 


THE  MOONSTONE 

An  hour  afterward  I  heard  them  at  high  words  in  the  con- 
servatory, with  the  dog-rose  once  more  at  the  bottom  of  the 
dispute. 

In  the  mean  time  it  was  my  business  to  find  out  whether 
Mr.  FrankHn  persisted  in  his  resolution  to  leave  us  by  the 
afternoon  train.  After  having  been  informed  of  the  confer- 
ence in  my  lady's  room,  and  of  how  it  had  ended,  he  imme- 
diately decided  on  waiting  to  hear  the  news  from  Frizing- 
hall.  This  very  natural  alteration  in  his  plans — which,  with 
ordinary  people,  would  have  led  to  nothing  in  particular — 
proved,  in  Mr.  Franklin's  case,  to  have  one  objectionable 
result.  It  left  him  unsettled,  with  a  legacy  of  idle  time  on  his 
hands,  and  in  so  doing  it  let  out  all  the  foreign  sides  of 
his  character,  one  on  the  top  of  another,  like  rats  out  of 
a  bag. 

Now  as  an  Italian-Englishman,  now  as  a  German-English- 
man, and  now  as  a  French-Englishman,  he  drifted  in  and  out 
of  all  the  sitting-rooms  in  the  house,  with  nothing  to  talk  of 
but  Miss  Rachel's  treatment  of  him ;  and  with  nobody  to  ad- 
dress himself  to  but  me.  I  found  him,  for  example,  in  the 
library,  sitting  under  the  map  of  Modern  Italy,  and  quite  un- 
aware of  any  other  method  of  meeting  his  troubles  except  the 
method  of  talking  about  them.  "I  have  several  worthy  as- 
pirations, Betteredge ;  but  what  am  I  to  do  with  them  now  ? 
I  am  full  of  dormant  good  qualities,  if  Rachel  would  only 
have  helped  me  to  bring  them  out !"  He  was  so  eloquent  in 
drawing  the  picture  of  his  own  neglected  merits,  and  so 
pathetic  in  lamenting  over  it  when  it  was  done,  that  I  felt 
quite  at  my  wit's  end  how  to  console  him,  when  it  suddenly 
occurred  to  me  that  here  was  a  case  for  the  wholesome  appli- 
cation of  a  bit  of  Robinson  Crusoe.  I  hobbled  out  to  my  own 
room,  and  hobbled  back  with  that  immortal  book.  Nobody 
in  the  library !  The  map  of  Modern  Italy  stared  at  me;  and 
/  stared  at  the  map  of  Modern  Italy. 

I  tried  the  drawing-room.  There  was  his  handkerchief  on 
the  floor,  to  prove  that  he  had  drifted  in.  And  there  was 
the  empty  room,  to  prove  that  he  had  drifted  out  again. 

I  tried  the  dining-room,  and  discovered  Samuel  with  a 
biscuit  and  a  glass  of  sherry,  silently  investigating  the  empty 

192 


THE  MOONSTONE 

air.  A  minute  since  Mr.  Franklin  had  rung  furiously  for 
a  little  light  refreshment.  On  its  production,  in  a  violent 
hurry,  by  Samuel,  Mr.  Franklin  had  vanished  before  the  bell 
down  stairs  had  quite  done  ringing  with  the  pull  he  had 
given  to  it. 

I  tried  the  morning-room,  and  found  him  at  last.  There 
he  was  at  the  window,  drawing  hieroglyphics,  with  his  finger 
in  the  damp  on  the  glass. 

"Your  sherry  is  waiting  for  you,  sir,"  I  said  to  him.  I 
might  as  well  have  addressed  myself  to  one  of  the  four  walls 
of  the  room ;  he  was  down  in  the  bottomless  deep  of  his  own 
meditations,  past  all  pulling  up.  "How  do  yoic  explain 
Rachel's  conduct,  Betteredge?"  was  the  only  answer  I  re- 
ceived. Not  being  ready  with  the  needful  reply,  I  produced 
Robinson  Crusoe,  in  which  I  am  firmly  persuaded  some  ex- 
planation might  have  been  found,  if  we  had  only  searched 
long  enough  for  it.  Mr.  Franklin  shut  up  Robinson  Crusoe 
and  floundered  into  his  German-English  gibberish  on  the 
spot.  "Why  not  look  into  it  ?"  he  said,  as  if  I  had  personally 
objected  to  looking  into  it.  "Why  the  devil  lose  your  pa- 
tience, Betteredge,  when  patience  is  all  that's  wanted  to  arrive 
at  the  truth?  Don't  interrupt  me.  Rachel's  conduct  is  per- 
fectly intelligible,  if  you  will  only  do  her  the  common  justice 
to  take  the  objective  view  first,  and  the  subjective  view  next, 
and  the  objective-subjective  view  to  wind  up  with.  What 
do  we  know?  We  know  that  the  loss  of  the  Moonstone,  on 
Thursday  morning  last,  threw  her  into  a  state  of  nervous  ex- 
citement from  which  she  has  not  recovered  yet.  Do  you 
mean  to  deny  the  objective  view,  so  far?  Very  well,  then — 
don't  interrupt  me.  Now,  being  in  a  state  of  nervous  excite- 
ment, how  are  we  to  expect  that  she  should  behave  as  she 
might  otherwise  have  behaved  to  any  of  the  people  about  her  ? 
Arguing  in  this  way,  from  within-outward,  what  do  we 
reach  ?  We  reach  the  subjective  view.  I  defy  you  to  con- 
trovert the  subjective  view.  Very  well,  then — what  follows? 
Good  Heavens !  the  objective-subjective  explanation  follows, 
of  course !  Rachel,  properly  speaking,  is  not  Rachel,  but 
Somebody  Else.  Do  I  mind  being  cruelly  treated  by  Some- 
body Else?  You  are  unreasonable  enough,  Betteredge;  but 
you  can  hardly  accuse  me  of  that.     Then  how  does  it  end? 

13  193 


THE  MOONSTONE 

It  ends,  in  spite  of  your  confounded  English  narrowness  and 
prejudice,  in  my  being  perfectly  happy  and  comfortable. 
Where's  the  sherry?" 

My  head  was  by  this  time  in  such  a  condition  that  I  was 
not  quite  sure  whether  it  was  my  own  head  or  Mr.  Frank- 
lin's. In  this  deplorable  state  I  contrived  to  do,  what  I  take 
to  have  been,  three  objective  things.  I  got  Mr.  Franklin  his 
sherry ;  I  retired  to  my  own  room ;  and  I  solaced  myself  with 
the  most  composing  pipe  of  tobacco  I  ever  remember  to  have 
smoked  in  my  life. 

Don't  suppose,  however,  that  I  was  quit  of  Mr.  Franklin 
on  such  easy  terms  as  these.  Drifting  again  out  of  the 
morning-room  into  the  hall,  he  found  his  way  to  the  ofifices 
next,  smelled  my  pipe,  and  was  instantly  reminded  that  he 
had  been  simple  enough  to  give  up  smoking  for  Miss  Rachel's 
sake.  In  the  twinkling  of  an  eye  he  burst  in  on  me  with  his 
cigar-case,  and  came  out  strong  on  the  one  everlasting  sub- 
ject in  his  neat,  witty,  unbelieving,  French  way.  "Give  me 
a  light,  Betteredge.  Is  it  conceivable  that  a  man  can  have 
smoked  as  long  as  I  have,  without  discovering  that  there  is 
a  complete  system  for  the  treatment  of  women  at  the  bottom 
of  his  cigar-case?  Follow  me  carefully,  and  I'll  prove  it  in 
two  words.  You  choose  a  cigar,  you  try  it,  and  it  disappoints 
you.  What  do  you  do  upon  that?  You  throw  it  away  and 
try  another.  Now  observe  the  application !  You  choose  a 
woman,  you  try  her,  and  she  breaks  your  heart.  Fool !  take 
a  lesson  from  your  cigar-case.  Throw  her  away  and  try  an- 
other !" 

I  shook  my  head  at  that.  Wonderfully  clever,  I  dare  say, 
but  my  own  experience  was  dead  against  it.  "In  the  time 
of  the  late  Mrs.  Betteredge,"  I  said,  "I  felt  pretty  often  in- 
clined to  try  your  philosophy,  Mr.  Franklin.  But  the  law 
insists  on  your  smoking  your  cigar,  sir,  when  you  have  once 
chosen  it."  I  pointed  that  observation  with  a  wink.  Mr. 
Franklin  burst  out  laughing — and  we  were  as  merry  as 
crickets,  until  the  next  new  side  of  his  character  turned  up 
in  due  course.  So  things  went  on  with  my  young  master  and 
me ;  and  so,  while  the  Sergeant  and  the  gardener  were  wrang- 
ling over  the  roses,  we  two  spent  the  interval  before  the  news 
came  back  from  Frizinghall. 

194 


THE  MOONSTONE 

The  pony-chaise  returned  a  good  half  hour  before  I  had 
ventured  to  expect  it.  My  lady  had  decided  to  remain,  for 
the  present,  at  her  sister's  house.  The  groom  brought  two 
letters  from  his  mistress ;  one  addressed  to  Mr.  Franklin,  and 
the  other  to  me. 

Mr.  Franklin's  letter  I  sent  to  him  in  the  library — into 
which  refuge  his  driftings  had  now  taken  him  for  the  second 
time.  My  own  letter  I  read  in  my  own  room.  A  check, 
which  dropped  out  when  I  opened  it,  informed  me  (before  I 
had  mastered  the  contents)  that  Sergeant  Cuff's  dismissal 
from  the  inquiry  after  the  Moonstone  was  now  a  settled  thing. 

I  sent  to  the  conservatory  to  say  that  I  wished  to  speak 
to  the  Sergeant  directly.  He  appeared,  with  his  mind  full 
of  the  gardener  and  the  dog-rose,  declaring  that  the  equal  of 
Mr.  Begbie  for  obstinacy  never  had  existed  yet,  and  never 
would  exist  again.  I  requested  him  to  dismiss  such  wretched 
trifling  as  this  from  our  conversation,  and  to  give  his  best 
attention  to  a  really  serious  matter.  Upon  that  he  exerted 
himself  sufficiently  to  notice  the  letter  in  my  hand.  "Ah !" 
he  said  in  a  weary  way,  "you  have  heard  from  her  ladyship. 
Have  I  any  thing  to  do  with  it,  Mr.  Betteredge?" 

"You  shall  judge  for  yourself,  Sergeant."  I  thereupon 
read  him  the  letter  (with  my  best  emphasis  and  discretion), 
in  the  following  words  : 

"My  Good  Gabriel, — I  request  you  will  inform  Sergeant 
Cuff  that  I  have  performed  the  promise  I  made  to  him ;  with 
this  result,  so  far  as  Rosanna  Spearman  is  concerned.  Miss 
Verinder  solemnly  declares  that  she  has  never  spoken  a  word 
in  private  to  Rosanna,  since  that  unhappy  woman  first  entered 
my  house.  They  never  met,  even  accidentally,  on  the  night 
when  the  Diamond  was  lost ;  and  no  communication  of  any 
sort  whatever  took  place  between  them,  from  the  Thursday 
morning  when  the  alarm  was  first  raised  in  the  house,  to 
this  present  Saturday  afternoon,  when  Miss  Verinder  left  us. 
After  telling  my  daughter,  suddenly  and  in  so  many  words, 
of  Rosanna  Spearman's  suicide — this  is  what  came  of  it." 

Having  reached  that  point,  I  looked  up  and  asked  Sergeant 
Cuff  what  he  thought  of  the  letter,  so  far? 

195 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"I  should  only  offend  you  if  I  expressed  my  opinion,"  an- 
y  swered  the  Sergeant.  "Go  on,  Mr,  Betteredge,"  he  said, 
with  the  most  exasperating  resignation ;  "go  on." 

When  I  remembered  that  this  man  had  had  the  audacity 
to  complain  of  our  gardener's  obstinacy,  my  tongue  itched  to 
"go  on"  in  other  words  than  my  mistress's.  This  time,  how- 
ever, my  Christianity  held  firm.  I  proceeded  steadily  with 
her  ladyship's  letter : 

"Having  appealed  to  Miss  Verinder  in  the  manner  which 
the  officer  thought  most  desirable,  I  spoke  to  her  next  in  the 
manner  which  I  myself  thought  most  likely  to  impress  her. 
On  two  different  occasions,  before  my  daughter  left  my  roof, 
I  privately  warned  her  that  she  was  exposing  herself  to  sus- 
picion of  the  most  unendurable  and  most  degrading  kind.  I 
have  now  told  her,  in  the  plainest  terms,  that  my  apprehen- 
sions have  been  realized. 

"Her  answer  to  this,  on  her  own  solemn  affirmation,  is  as 
plain  as  words  can  be.  In  the  first  place,  she  owes  no 
money  privately  to  any  living  creature.  In  the  second 
place,  the  Diamond  is  not  now,  and  never  has  been,  in  her 
possession,  since  she  put  it  into  her  cabinet  on  Wednesday 
night. 

"The  confidence  which  my  daughter  has  placed  in  me  goes 
no  further  than  this.  She  maintains  an  obstinate  silence  when 
I  ask  her  if  she  can  explain  the  disappearance  of  the  Dia- 
mond. She  refuses,  with  tears,  when  I  appeal  to  her  to  speak 
out  for  my  sake.  'The  day  will  come  when  you  will  know 
why  I  am  careless  about  being  suspected,  and  why  I  am  silent 
even  to  you.  I  have  done  much  to  make  my  mother  pity  me 
— nothing  to  make  my  mother  blush  for  me.'  Those  are  my 
daughter's  own  words. 

"After  what  has  passed  between  the  officer  and  me,  I  think 
— stranger  as  he  is — that  he  should  be  made  acquainted  with 
what  Miss  Verinder  has  said  as  well  as  you.  Read  my  letter 
to  him,  and  then  place  in  his  hands  the  check  which  I  inclose. 
In  resigning  all  further  claim  on  his  services,  I  have  only  to 
say  that  I  am  convinced  of  his  honesty  and  his  intelligence ; 
but  I-  am  more  firmly  persuaded  than  ever  that  the  circum- 
stances, in  this  case,  have  fatally  misled  him." 

196 


THE  MOONSTONE 

There  the  letter  ended.  Before  presenting  the  check,  I 
asked  Sergeant  Cuff  if  he  had  any  remark  to  make. 

"It's  no  part  of  my  duty,  Mr.  Betteredge,"  he  answered, 
"to  make  remarks  on  a  case  when  I  have  done  with  it." 

I  tossed  the  check  across  the  table  to  him.  "Do  you  believe 
in  that  part  of  her  ladyship's  letter  ?"  I  said,  indignantly. 

The  Sergeant  looked  at  the  check,  and  lifted  his  dismal 
eyebrows  in  acknowledgment  of  her  ladyship's  liberality. 

"This  is  such  a  generous  estimate  of  the  value  of  my 
time,"  he  said,  "that  I  feel  bound  to  make  some  return  for  it. 
I'll  bear  in  mind  the  amount  in  this  check,  Mr.  Betteredge, 
when  the  time  comes  round  for  remembering  it." 

"What  do  you  mean?"  I  asked. 

"Her  ladyship  has  smoothed  matters  over  for  the  present 
very  cleverly,"  said  the  Sergeant.  "But  this  family  scandal 
is  of  the  sort  that  bursts  up  again  when  you  least  expect  it. 
We  shall  have  more  detective  business  on  our  hands,  sir,  be- 
fore the  Moonstone  is  many  months  older." 

If  those  words  meant  any  thing,  and  if  the  manner  in 
which  he  spoke  them  meant  any  thing — it  came  to  this :  My 
mistress's  letter  had  proved,  to  his  mind,  that  Miss  Rachel 
was  hardened  enough  to  resist  the  strongest  appeal  that  could 
be  addressed  to  her,  and  that  she  had  deceived  her  own 
mother — good  God,  under  what  circumstances  ! — by  a  series 
of  abominable  lies.  How  other  people,  in  my  place,  might 
have  replied  to  the  Sergeant  I  don't  know.  I  answered  what 
he  had  said  in  these  plain  terms : 

"Sergeant  Cuff,  I  consider  your  last  observation  as  an  in- 
sult to  my  lady  and  her  daughter !" 

"Mr.  Betteredge,  consider  it  as  a  warning  to  yourself,  and 
you  will  be  nearer  the  mark." 

Hot  and  angry  as  I  was,  the  infernal  confidence  with  which 
he  gave  me  that  answer  closed  my  lips. 

I  walked  to  the  window  to  compose  myself.  The  rain  had 
given  over ;  and,  who  should  I  see  in  the  court-yard  but  Mr. 
Begbie,  the  gardener,  waiting  outside  to  continue  the  dog- 
rose  controversy  with  Sergeant  Cuff. 

"My  compliments  to  the  Sergeant,"  said  Mr,  Begbie,  the 
moment  he  set  eyes  on  me.  "If  he's  minded  to  walk  to  the 
station,  I'm  agreeable  to  go  with  him." 

197 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"What !"  cries  the  Sergeant,  behind  me,  "are  you  not  con- 
vinced yet?" 

"The  deil  a  bit  I'm  convinced !"  answered  Mr.  Begbie. 

"Then  I'll  walk  to  the  station !"  says  the  Sergeant. 

"Then  I'll  meet  you  at  the  gate!"  says  Mr.  Begbie. 

I  was  angry  enough,  as  you  know — but  how  was  any  man's 
anger  to  hold  out  against  such  an  interruption  as  this  ?  Ser- 
geant Cuff  noticed  the  change  in  me,  and  encouraged  it  by 
a  word  in  season.  "Come !  come !"  he  said,  "why  not  treat 
my  view  of  the  case  as  her  ladyship  treats  it  ?  Why  not  say, 
the  circumstances  have  fatally  misled  me?" 

To  take  any  thing  as  her  ladyship  took  it  was  a  privilege 
worth  enjoying — even  with  the  disadvantage  of  its  having 
been  offered  to  me  by  Sergeant  Cuff.  I  cooled  slowly  down 
to  my  customary  level.  I  regarded  any  other  opinion  of 
Miss  Rachel  than  my  lady's  opinion  or  mine  with  a  lofty  con- 
tempt. The  only  thing  I  could  not  do  was  to  keep  off  the 
subject  of  the  Moonstone !  My  own. good  sense  ought  to  have 
warned  me,  I  know,  to  let  the  matter  rest — but,  there !  the 
virtues  which  distinguish  the  present  generation  were  not  in- 
vented in  my  time.  Sergeant  Cuff  had  hit  me  on  the  raw, 
and,  though  I  did  look  down  upon  him  with  contempt,  the 
tender  place  still  tingled  for  all  that.  The  end  of  it  was  that 
I  perversely  led  him  back  to  the  subject  of  her  ladyship's 
letter.  "I  am  quite  satisfied  myself,"  I  said.  "But  never 
mind  that !  Go  on  as  if  I  was  still  open  to  conviction.  You 
think  Miss  Rachel  is  not  to  be  believed  on  her  word ;  and 
you  say  we  shall  hear  of  the  Moonstone  again.  Back  your 
opinion,  Sergeant,"  I  concluded,  in  an  airy  way.  "Back  your 
opinion." 

Instead  of  taking  offense,  Sergeant  Cuff  seized  my  hand 
and  shook  it  till  my  fingers  ached  again. 

"I  declare  to  Heaven,"  says  this  strange  officer,  solemnly, 
"I  would  take  to  domestic  service  to-morrow,  Mr.  Better- 
edge,  if  I  had  a  chance  of  being  employed  along  with  you ! 
To  say  you  are  as  transparent  as  a  child,  sir,  is  to  pay  the 
children  a  compliment  which  nine  out  of  ten  of  them  don't 
deserve.  There !  there !  we  won^t  begin  to  dispute  again. 
You  shall  have  it  out  of  me  on  easier  terms  than  that.  I 
won't  say  a  word  more  about  her  ladyship  or  about  Miss 


THE  MOONSTONE 

Verinder — I'll  only  turn  prophet,  for  once  in  a  way,  and  for 
your  sake.  I  have  warned  you  already  that  you  haven't  done 
with  the  Moonstone  yet.  Very  well.  Now  I'll  tell  you,  at 
parting,  of  three  things  which  will  happen  in  the  future,  and 
which,  I  believe,  will  force  themselves  on  your  attention, 
whether  you  like  it  or  not." 

"Go  on!"  I  said,  quite  unabashed,  and  just  as  airy  as  ever. 

"First,"  said  the  Sergeant,  "you  will  hear  something  from 
the  Yollands — when  the  postman  delivers  Rosanna's  letter  at 
Cobb's  Hole  on  Monday  next." 

If  he  had  thrown  a  bucket  of  cold  water  over  me,  I  doubt 
if  I  could  have  felt  it  much  more  unpleasantly  than  I  felt 
those  words.  Miss  Rachel's  assertion  of  her  innocence  had 
left  Rosanna's  conduct — the  making  the  new  night-gown,  the 
hiding  the  smeared  night-gown,  and  all  the  rest  of  it — entirely 
without  explanation.  And  this  had  never  occurred  to  me  till 
Sergeant  Cuff  forced  it  on  my  mind  all  in  a  moment ! 

"In  the  second  place,"  proceeded  the  Sergeant,  "you  will 
hear  of  the  three  Indians  again.  You  will  hear  of  them  in 
the  neighborhood,  if  Miss  Rachel  remains  in  the  neighbor- 
hood. You  will  hear  of  them  in  London,  if  Miss  Rachel  goes 
to  London." 

Having  lost  all  interest  in  the  three  jugglers,  and  having 
thoroughly  convinced  myself  of  my  young  lady's  innocence, 
I  took  this  second  prophecy  easily  enough.  "So  much  for  two 
of  the  three  things  that  are  going  to  happen,"  I  said.  "Now 
for  the  third !" 

"Third,  and  last,"  said  Sergeant  Cuff,  "you  will,  sooner  or 
later,  hear  something  of  that  money-lender  in  London,  whom 
I  have  twice  taken  the  liberty  of  mentioning  already.  Give 
me  your  pocket-book,  and  I'll  make  a  note  for  you  of  his 
name  and  address — so  that  there  may  be  no  mistake  about 
it  if  the  thing  really  happens." 

He  wrote  accordingly  on  a  blank  leaf :  "Mr.  Septimus 
Luker,  Middlesex  Place,  Lambeth,  London." 

"There,"  he  said,  pointing  to  the  address,  "are  the  last 
words,  on  the  subject  of  the  Moonstone,  which  I  shall  trouble 
you  with  for  the  present.  Time  will  show  whether  I  am 
right  or  wrong.  In  the  mean  while,  sir,  I  carry  away  with 
me  a  sincere  personal  liking  iox  you,  which  I  think  does 

199 


THE  MOONSTONE 

honor  to  both  of  us.  If  we  don't  meet  again  before  my  pro- 
fessional retirement  takes  place,  I  hope  you  will  come  and 
see  me  in  a  little  house  near  London,  which  I  have  got  my 
eye  on.  There  will  be  grass-walks,  Mr.  Betteredge,  I  prom- 
ise you,  in  my  garden.    And  as  for  the  white  moss-rose — " 

"The  deil  a  bit  ye'll  get  the  white  moss-rose  to  grow,  unless 
ye  bud  him  on  the  dog-rose  first,"  cried  a  voice  at  the  window. 

We  both  turned  round.  There  w^as  the  everlasting  Mr. 
Begbie,  too  eager  for  the  controversy  to  wait  any  longer  at 
the  gate.  The  Sergeant  wrung  my  hand,  and  darted  out 
into  the  court-yard,  hotter  still  on  his  side.  "Ask  him  about 
the  moss-rose,  when  he  comes  back,  and  see  if  I  have  left 
him  a  leg  to  stand  on !"  cried  the  great  Cuff,  hailing  me 
through  the  window  in  his  turn.  "Gentlemen  both,"  I  an- 
swered, moderating  them  again  as  I  had  moderated  them 
once  already,  "in  the  matter  of  the  moss-rose  there  is  a  great 
deal  to  be  said  on  both  sides."  I  might  as  well,  as  the  Irish 
say,  have  whistled  jigs  to  a  mile-stone.  Away  they  went  to- 
gether, fighting  the  battle  of  the  roses  without  asking  or 
giving  quarter  on  either  side.  The  last  I  saw  of  them  Mr. 
Begbie  was  shaking  his  obstinate  head,  and  Sergeant  Cuff 
had  got  him  by  the  arm  like  a  prisoner  in  charge.  Ah,  well ! 
well !  I  own  I  couldn't  help  liking  the  Sergeant — though  I 
hated  him  all  the  time. 

Explain  that  state  of  mind  if  you  can.  You  will  soon  be 
rid  now  of  me  and  my  contradictions.  When  I  have  reported 
Mr.  Franklin's  departure,  the  history  of  the  Saturday's  events 
will  be  finished  at  last.  And  when  I  have  next  described 
certain  strange  things  that  happened  in  the  course  of  the  new 
week,  I  shall  have  done  my  part  of  the  Story,  and  shall  hand 
over  the  pen  to  the  person  who  is  appointed  to  follow  my  lead. 
If  you  are  as  tired  of  reading  this  narrative  as  I  am  of  writing 
it — Lord,  how  we  shall  enjoy  ourselves  on  both  sides  a  few 
pages  further  on ! 


CHAPTER   XXII. 

I  HAD  kept  the  pony-chaise  ready,  in  case  Mr.  Franklin  per- 
sisted in  leaving  us  by  the  train  that  night.   The  appearance 
.of  the  luggage,  followed  down  stairs  by  Mr.  Franklin  himself, 

200 


THE  MOONSTONE 

informed  me  plainly  enough  that  he  had  held  firm  to  a  reso- 
lution for  once  in  his  life. 

"So  you  have  really  made  up  your  mind,  sir?"  I  said,  as 
we  met  in  the  hall.  "Why  not  wait  a  day  or  two  longer,  and 
give  Miss  Rachel  another  chance?" 

The  foreign  varnish  appeared  to  have  all  worn  off  Mr. 
Franklin,  now  that  the  time  had  come  for  saying  good-bye. 
Instead  of  replying  to  me  in  words,  he  put  the  letter  which 
her  ladyship  had  addressed  to  him  into  my  hand.  The  greater 
part  of  it  said  over  again  what  had  been  said  already  in  the 
other  communication  received  by  me.  But  there  was  a  bit 
about  Miss  Rachel  added  at  the  end  which  will  account  for 
the  steadiness  of  Mr.  Franklin's  determination,  if  it  accounts 
for  nothing  else. 

"You  will  wonder,  I  dare  say,"  her  ladyship  wrote,  "at  my 
allowing  my  own  daughter  to  keep  me  perfectly  in  the  dark. 
A  Diamond  worth  twenty  thousand  pounds  has  been  lost — 
and  I  am  left  to  infer  that  the  mystery  of  its  disappearance 
is  no  mystery  to  Rachel,  and  that  some  incomprehensible 
obligation  of  silence  has  been  laid  on  her,  by  some  person  or 
persons  utterly  unknown  to  me,  with  some  object  in  view  at 
which  I  can  not  even  guess.  Is  it  conceivable  that  I  should 
allow  myself  to  be  trifled  with  in  this  way?  It  is  quite  con- 
ceivable, in  Rachel's  present  state.  She  is  in  a  condition  of 
nervous  agitation  pitiable  to  see.  I  dare  not  approach  the 
subject  of  the  Moonstone  again  until  time  has  done  some- 
thing to  quiet  her.  To  help  this  end,  I  have  not  hesitated  to 
dismiss  the  police  officer.  The  mystery  which  baffles  us  baffles 
him  too.  This  is  not  a  matter  in  which  any  stranger  can  help 
us.  He  adds  to  what  I  have  to  suffer ;  and  he  maddens  Rachel 
if  she  only  hears  his  name. 

"My  plans  for  the  future  are  as  well  settled  as  they  can 
be.  My  present  idea  is  to  take  Rachel  to  London — partly 
to  relieve  her  mind  by  a  complete  change,  partly  to  try  what 
may  be  done  by  consulting  the  best  medical  advice.  Can  I 
ask  you  to  meet  us  in  town  ?  My  dear  Franklin,  you.  in  your 
way,  must  imitate  my  patience,  and  wait,  as  I  do,  for  a  fitter 
time.  The  valuable  assistance  which  you  rendered  to  the  in- 
quiry after  the  lost  jewel  is  still  an  unpardoned  offense,  in 
the  present  dreadful  state  of  Rachel's  mind.     Moving  blind- 

201 


THE  MOONSTONE 

fold  in  this  matter,  you  have  added  to  the  burden  of  anxiety 
which  she  has  had  to  bear,  by  innocently  threatening  her 
secret  with  discovery,  through  your  exertions.  It  is  impos- 
sible for  me  to  excuse  the  perversity  which  holds  you  respon- 
sible for  consequences  which  neither  you  nor  I  cpuld  imagine 
or  foresee.  She  is  not  to  be  reasoned  with — she  can  only  be 
pitied.  I  am  grieved  to  have  to  say  it,  but,  for  the  present, 
you  and  Rachel  are  better  apart.  The  only  advice  I  can  offer 
you  is,  to  give  her  time." 

I  handed  the  letter  back,  sincerely  sorry  for  Mr.  Franklin, 
for  I  knew  how  fond  he  was  of  my  young  lady ;  and  I  saw 
that  her  mother's  account  of  her  had  cut  him  to  the  heart. 
"You  know  the  proverb,  sir,"  was  all  I  said  to  him.  "When 
things  are  at  the  worst,  they're  sure  to  mend.  Things  can't 
be  much  worse,  Mr.  Franklin,  than  they  are  now." 

Mr.  Franklin  folded  up  his  aunt's  letter,  without  appearing 
to  be  much  comforted  by  the  remark  which  I  had  ventured 
on  addressing  to  him. 

"When  I  came  here  from  London  with  that  horrible  Dia- 
mond," he  said,  "I  don't  believe  there  was  a  happier  house- 
hold in  England  than  this.  Look  at  the  household  now ! 
Scattered,  disunited — the  very  air  of  the  place  poisoned  with 
mystery  and  suspicion !  Do  you  remember  that  morning  at 
the  Shivering  Sand,  when  we  talked  about  my  uncle  Hern- 
castle,  and  his  birthday  gift?  The  Moonstone  has  served 
the  Colonel's  vengeance,  Betteredge,  by  means  which  the 
Colonel  himself  never  dreamed  of !" 

With  that  he  shook  me  by  the  hand,  and  went  out  to  the 
pony-chaise. 

I  followed  him  down  the  steps.  It  was  very  miserable  to 
see  him  leaving  the  old  place,  where  he  had  spent  the  hap- 
piest years  of  his  life,  in  this  way.  Penelope,  sadly  upset  by 
all  that  had  happened  in  the  house,  came  round  crying  to  bid 
him  good-bye.  Mr.  Franklin  kissed  her.  I  waved  my  hand 
as  much  as  to  say,  "You're  heartily  welcome,  sir."  Some  of 
the  other  female  servants  appeared,  peeping  after  him  round 
the  corner.  He  was  one  of  those  men  whom  the  women  all 
like.  At  the  last  moment  I  stopped  the  pony-chaise  and 
begged  as  a  favor  that  he  would  let  us  hear  from  him  by 

203 


THE  MOONSTONE 

letter.  He  didn't  seem  to  heed  what  I  said — he  was  looking 
round  from  one  thing  to  another,  taking  a  sort  of  farewell 
of  the  old  house  and  grounds.  "Tell  us  where  you  are  going 
to,  sir !"  I  said,  holding  on  by  the  chaise,  and  trying  to  get 
at  his  future  plans  in  that  way.  Mr.  Franklin  pulled  his  hat 
down  suddenly  over  his  eyes.  "Going?"  says  he,  echoing  the 
word  after  me.  "I  am  going  to  the  devil !"  The  pony  started 
at  the  word  as  if  he  felt  a  Christian  horror  of  it.  "God 
bless  you,  sir,  go  where  you  may!"  was  all  I  had  time  to  say 
before  he  was  out  of  sight  and  hearing.  A  sweet  and  pleasant 
gentleman !  With  all  his  faults  and  follies,  a  sweet  and  pleas- 
ant gentleman !  He  left  a  sad  gap  behind  him  when  he  left 
my  lady's  house. 

It  was  dull  and  dreary  enough  when  the  long  summer 
evening  closed  in  on  that  Saturday  night. 

I  kept  my  spirits  from  sinking  by  sticking  fast  to  my  pipe 
and  my  Robinson  Crusoe.  The  women,  excepting  Penelope, 
beguiled  the  time  by  talking  of  Rosanna's  suicide.  They 
were  all  obstinately  of  opinion  that  the  poor  girl  had  stolen 
the  Moonstone,  and  that  she  had  destroyed  herself  in  terror 
of  being  found  out.  My  daughter,  of  course,  privately  held 
fast  to  what  she  had  said  all  along.  Her  notion  of  the  motive 
which  was  really  at  the  bottom  of  the  suicide  failed,  oddly 
enough,  just  where  my  young  lady's  assertion  of  her  inno- 
cence failed  also.  It  left  Rosanna's  secret  journey  to  Friz- 
inghall  and  Rosanna's  proceedings  in  the  matter  of  the  night- 
gown, entirely  unaccounted  for.  There  was  no  use  in  point- 
ing this  out  to  Penelope ;  the  objection  made  about  as  much 
impression  on  her  as  a  shower  of  rain  on  a  water-proof  coat. 
The  truth  is,  my  daughter  inherits  my  superiority  to  reason 
— and  in  respect  to  that  accomplishment  has  got  a  long  way 
ahead  of  her  own  father. 

On  the  next  day,  Sunday,  the  close  carriage,  which  had  been 
kept  at  Mr.  Ablewhite's,  came  back  to  us  empty.  The  coach- 
man brought  a  message  for  me,  and  written  instructions  for 
my  lady's  own  maid  and  for  Penelope. 

The  message  informed  me  that  my  mistress  had  deter- 
mined to  take  Miss  Rachel  to  her  house  in  London  on  the 
Monday.     The  written  instructions  informed  the  two  maids 

203 


THE  MOONSTONE 

of  the  clothing  that  was  wanted,  and  directed  them  to  meet 
their  mistresses  in  town  at  a  given  hour.  Most  of  the  other 
servants  were  to  follow.  My  lady  had  found  Miss  Rachel 
so  unwilling  to  return  to  the  house,  after  what  had  happened 
in  it,  that  she  had  decided  on  going  to  London  direct  from 
Frizinghall.  I  was  to  remain  in  the  country,  until  further 
orders,  to  look  after  things  indoors  and  out.  The  servants 
left  with  me  were  to  be  put  on  board  wages. 

Being  reminded  by  all  this  of  what  Mr.  Franklin  had  said 
about  our  being  a  scattered  and  disunited  household,  my  mind 
was  led  naturally  to  Mr.  Franklin  himself.  The  more  I 
thought  of  him  the  more  uneasy  I  felt  about  his  future  pro- 
ceedings. It  ended  in  my  writing,  by  the  Sunday's  post,  to 
his  father's  valet,  Mr.  Jeffco,  whom  I  had  known  in  former 
years,  to  beg  he  would  let  me  know  what  Mr.  Franklin  had 
settled  to  do  on  arriving  in  London. 

The  Sunday  evening  was,  if  possible,  duller  even  than  the 
Saturday  evening.  We  ended  the  day  of  rest  as  hundreds 
of  thousands  of  people  end  it  regularly,  once  a  week,  in  these 
islands — that  is  to  say,  we  all  anticipated  bed-time,  and  fell 
asleep  in  our  chairs. 

Hov/  the  Monday  affected  the  rest  of  the  household  I  don't 
know.  The  Monday  gave  me  2l  good  shake-up.  The  first  of 
Sergeant  Cuff's  prophecies  of  what  was  to  happen — namely, 
that  I  should  hear  from  the  Yollands — came  true  on  that 
day. 

I  had  seen  Penelope  and  my  lady's  maid  off  in  the  railway 
with  the  luggage  for  London,  and  was  pottering  about  the 
grounds,  when  I  heard  my  name  called.  Turning  round,  I 
found  myself  face  to  face  with  the  fisherman's  daughter, 
Limping  Lucy.  Bating  her  lame  foot  and  her  leanness,  this 
last  a  horrid  drawback  to  a  woman,  in  my  opinion,  the  girl 
had  some  pleasing  qualities  in  the  eye  of  a  man.  A  dark, 
keen,  clever  face,  and  a  nice  clear  voice,  and  a  beautiful  brown 
head  of  hair,  counted  among  her  merits.  A  crutch  appeared 
in  the  list  of  her  misfortunes.  And  a  temper  reckoned  high 
in  the  sum  total  of  her  defects. 

"Well,  my  dear,"  I  said,  "what  do  you  want  with  me?" 
"Where's   the   man   you  call   Franklin   Blake?"   says   the 

204 


THE  MOONSTONE 

girl,  fixing  me  with  a  fierce  look  as  she  rested  herself  on  her 
crutch. 

"That's  not  a  respectful  way  to  speak  of  any  gentleman," 
I  answered.  "If  you  wish  to  inquire  for  my  lady's  nephew, 
you  will  please  mention  him  as  Mr.  Franklin  Blake." 

She  limped  a  step  nearer  to  me,  and  looked  as  if  she  could 
have  eaten  me  alive.  "Mr.  Franklin  Blake  ?"  she  repeated 
after  me.  "Murderer  Franklin  Blake  would  be  a  fitter  name 
for  him." 

My  practice  with  the  late  Mrs.  Betteredge  came  in  handy 
here.  Whenever  a  woman  tries  to  put  you  out  of  temper, 
turn  the  tables,  and  put  her  out  of  temper  instead.  They  are 
generally  prepared  for  every  effort  you  can  make  in  your 
own  defense  but  that.  One  word  does  as  well  as  a  hundred ; 
and  one  word  did  it  with  Limping  Lucy.  I  looked  her  pleas- 
antly in  the  face;  and  I  said — "Pooh!" 

The  girl's  temper  flamed  out  directly.  She  poised  herself 
on  her  sound  foot,  and  she  took  her  crutch  and  beat  it  furi- 
ously three  times  on  the  ground.  "He's  a  murderer!  he's 
a  murderer !  he's  a  murderer !  He  has  been  the  death  of 
Rosanna  Spearman !"  She  screamed  that  answer  out  at  the 
top  of  her  voice.  One  or  two  of  the  people  at  work  in  the 
grounds  near  us  looked  up ;  saw  it  was  Limping  Lucy ;  knew 
what  to  expect  from  that  quarter,  and  looked  away  again. 

"He  has  been  the  death  of  Rosanna  Spearman  ?"  I  repeated. 
"What  makes  you  say  that,  Lucy?" 

"What  do  you  care?  What  does  any  man  care?  Oh!  if 
she  had  only  thought  of  the  men  as  I  think,  she  might  have 
been  living  now !" 

"She  always  thought  kindly  of  me,  poor  soul,"  I  said ;  "and, 
to  the  best  of  my  ability,  I  always  tried  to  act  kindly  by  her." 

I  spoke  those  words  in  as  comforting  a  manner  as  I  could. 
The  truth  is,  I  hadn't  the  heart  to  irritate  the  girl  by  another 
of  my  smart  replies.  I  had  only  noticed  her  temper  at  first. 
I  noticed  her  wretchedness  now — and  wretchedness  is  not 
uncommonly  insolent,  you  will  find,  in  humble  life.  My  an- 
swer melted  Limping  Lucy.  She  bent  her  head  down,  and 
laid  it  on  the  top  of  her  crutch. 

"I  loved  her,"  the  girl  said,  softly.  "She  had  lived  a  miser- 
able life,  Mr.  Betteredge — vile  people  had  ill-treated  her  and 

205 


THE  MOONSTONE 

led  her  wrong  and  it  hadn't  spoiled  her  sweet  temper.  She 
was  an  angel.  She  might  have  been  happy  with  me.  I  had 
a  plan  for  our  going  to  London  together  like  sisters,  and 
living  by  our  needles.  That  man  came  here,  and  spoiled  it 
all.  He  bewitched  her.  Don't  tell  me  he  didn't  mean  it,  and 
didn't  know  it.  He  ought  to  have  known  it.  He  ought  to 
have  taken  pity  on  her.  T  can't  live  without  him — and,  oh 
Lucy,  he  never  even  looks  at  me.'  That's  what  she  said. 
Cruel,  cruel,  cruel !  I  said,  'No  man  is  worth  fretting  for  in 
that  way.'  And  she  said,  'There  are  men  worth  dying  for, 
Lucy,  and  he  is  one  of  them.'  I  had  saved  up  a  little  money. 
I  had  settled  things  with  father  and  mother.  I  meant  to 
take  her  away  from  the  mortification  she  was  suffering  here. 
We  should  have  had  a  little  lodging  in  London,  and  lived 
together  like  sisters.  She  had  a  good  education,  sir,  as  you 
know,  and  she  wrote  a  good  hand.  She  was  quick  at  her 
needle.  I  have  a  good  education,  and  I  write  a  good  hand. 
I  am  not  as  quick  at  my  needle  as  she  was — but  I  could  have 
done.  We  might  have  got  our  living  nicely.  And,  oh !  what 
happens  this  morning?  what  happens  this  morning?  Her 
letter  comes^  and  tells  me  she  has  done  with  the  burden  of 
her  life.  Her  letter  comes,  and  bids  me  good-bye  forever. 
Where  is  he?"  cries  the  girl,  lifting  her  head  from  the  crutch, 
and  flaming  out  again  through  her  tears.  "Where's  this  gen- 
tleman that  I  mustn't  speak  of,  except  with  respect?  Ha, 
Mr.  Betteredge,  the  day  is  not  far  off  when  the  poor  will  rise 
against  the  rich.  I  pray  Heaven  they  may  begin  with  Jiiui. 
I  pray  Heaven  they  may  begin  with  him." 

Here  was  another  of  your  average  good  Christians,  and 
here  was  the  usual  break-down,  consequent  on  that  same 
average  Christianity  being  pushed  too  far !  The  parson  him- 
self, though  I  own  this  is  saying  a  great  deal,  could  hardly 
have  lectured  the  girl  in  the  state  she  was  in  now.  All  I 
ventured  to  do  was  to  keep  her  to  the  point — in  the  hope  of 
something  turning  up  which  might  be  worth  hearing. 

"What  do  you  want  with  Mr,  Franklin  Blake?"  I  asked. 

"I  want  to  see  him." 

"For  any  thing  particular?" 

"I  have  got  a  letter  to  give  him." 

"From  Rosanna  Spearman?" 

206 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Yes." 

"Sent  to  you  in  your  own  letter?" 

"Yes." 

Was  the  darkness  going  to  lift?  Were  all  the  discoveries 
that  I  was  dying  to  make,  coming  and  offering  themselves 
to  me  of  their  own  accord  ?  I  was  obliged  to  wait  a  moment. 
Sergeant  Cuff  had  left  his  infection  behind  him.  Certain 
signs  and  tokens,  personal  to  myself,  warned  me  that  the 
detective-fever  was  beginning  to  set  in  again. 

"You  can't  see  Mr.  Franklin,"  I  said. 

"I  must  and  will  see  him." 

"He  went  to  London  last  night." 

Limping  Lucy  looked  me  hard  in  the  face,  and  saw  that  I 
was  speaking  the  truth.  Without  a  word  more  she  turned 
about  again  instantly  toward  Cobb's  Hole. 

"Stop !"  I  said.  "I  expect  news  of  Mr.  Franklin  Blake 
to-morrow.  Give  me  your  letter  and  I'll  send  it  on  to  him 
by  the  post." 

Limping  Lucy  steadied  herself  on  her  crutch  and  looked 
back  at  me  over  her  shoulder. 

"I  am  to  give  it  from  my  hands  into  his  hands,"  she  said. 
"And  I  am  to  give  it  to  him  in  no  other  way." 

"Shall  I  write  and  tell  him  what  you  have  said  ?" 

"Tell  him  I  hate  him.     And  you  will  tell  him  the  truth." 

"Yes,  yes.    But  about  the  letter — ?" 

"If  he  wants  the  letter,  he  must  come  back  here  and  get 
it  from  me." 

With  those  words  she  limped  off  on  the  way  to  Cobb's 
Hole.  The  detective-fever  burned  up  all  my  dignity  on  the 
spot.  I  followed  her  and  tried  to  make  her  talk.  All  in  vain. 
It  was  my  misfortune  to  be  a  man  and  Limping  Lucy  en- 
joyed disappointing  me.  Later  in  the  day  I  tried  my  luck 
with  her  mother.  Good  Mrs.  Yolland  could  only  cry  and 
recommend  a  drop  of  comfort  out  of  the  Dutch  bottle.  I 
found  the  fisherman  on  the  beach.  He  said  it  was  "a  bad 
job."  and  went  on  mending  his  net.  Neither  father  nor 
mother  knew  more  than  I  knew.  The  one  chance  left  to  try 
was  the  chance,  which  might  come  with  the  morning,  of  writ- 
ing to  Mr.  Franklin  Blake. 

I  leave  you  to  imagine  how  I  watched  for  the  postman  on 

207 


THE  MOONSTONE 

Tuesday  morning.  He  brought  me  two  letters.  One,  from 
Penelope,  which  I  had  hardly  patience  enough  to  read,  an- 
nounced that  my  lady  and  Miss  Rachel  were  safely  estab- 
lished in  London.  The  other,  from  j\Ir.  Jeffco,  informed  me 
that  his  master's  son  had  left  England  already. 

On  reaching  the  metropolis,  Mr.  Franklin  had,  it  appeared, 
gone  straight  to  his  father's  residence.  He  arrived  at  an 
awkward  time.  Mr.  Blake,  the  elder,  was  up  to  his  eyes  in 
the  business  of  the  House  of  Commons  and  was  amusing 
himself  at  home  that  night  with  the  favorite  parliamentary 
plaything  which  they  call  "a  private  bill."  Mr.  Jeffco  him- 
self showed  Mr.  Franklin  into  his  father's  study.  "My  dear 
Franklin !  why  do  you  surprise  me  in  this  way  ?  Any  thing 
wrong?"  "Yes;  something  wrong  with  Rachel;  I  am  dread- 
fully distressed  about  it."  "Grieved  to  hear  it.  But  I  can't 
listen  to  you  now."  "When  ca?i  you  listen?"  "My  dear  boy! 
I  won't  deceive  you.  I  can  listen  at  the  end  of  the  session, 
not  a  moment  before.  Good-night."  "Thank  you,  sir.  Good- 
night." 

Such  was  the  conversation  inside  the  study,  as  reported  to 
me  by  Mr,  Jeffco.  The  conversation  outside  the  study  was 
shorter  still.  "Jeffco,  see  what  time  the  tidal  train  starts  to- 
morrow morning."  "At  six-forty,  Mr.  Franklin."  "Have 
me  called  at  five."  "Going  abroad,  sir?"  "Going,  Jeffco, 
wherever  the  railway  chooses  to  take  me."  "Shall  I  tell  your 
father,  sir?"     "Yes;  tell  him  at  the  end  of  the  session." 

The  next  morning  ]\Ir.  Franklin  had  started  for  foreign 
parts.  To  what  particular  place  he  was  bound  nobody,  him- 
self included,  could  presume  to  guess.  We  might  hear  of 
him  next  in  Europe,  Asia,  Africa,  or  America.  The  chances 
w^ere  as  equally  divided  as  possible,  in  Mr.  Jeffco's  opinion, 
among  the  four  quarters  of  the  globe. 

This  news — by  closing  up  all  prospect  of  my  bringing 
Limping  Lucy  and  Mr.  Franklin  together — at  once  stopped 
any  further  progress  of  mine  on  the  way  to  discovery.  Penel- 
ope's belief  that  her  fellow-servant  had  destroyed  herself 
through  unrequited  love  for  Mr.  Franklin  Blake  was  con- 
firmed— and  that  was  all.  Whether  the  letter  which  Rosanna 
had  left  to  be  given  to  him  after  her  death  did.  or  did  not. 
contain  the  confession  which  Mr.  Franklin  had  suspected  her 

2oS 


THE  MOONSTONE 

of  trying-  to  make  to  him  in  her  Ufetime,  it  was  impossible 
to  say.  It  might  be  only  a  farewell  word,  telling  nothing  but 
the  secret  of  her  unhappy  fancy  for  a  person  beyond  her 
reach.  Or  it  might  own  the  whole  truth  about  the  strange 
proceedings  in  which  Sergeant  Cuff  had  detected  her,  from 
the  time  when  the  Moonstone  was  lost  to  the  time  when  she 
rushed  to  her  own  destruction  at  the  Shivering  Sand.  A 
sealed  letter  it  had  been  placed  in  Limping  Lucy's  hands, 
and  a  sealed  letter  it  remained  to  me  and  to  every  one  about 
the  girl,  her  own  parents  included.  We  all  suspected  her  of 
having  been  in  the  dead  woman's  confidence ;  we  all  tried  to 
make  her  speak ;  we  all  failed.  Now  one,  and  now  another, 
of  the  servants — still  holding  to  the  belief  that  Rosanna  had 
stolen  the  Diamond  and  had  hidden  it — peered  and  poked 
about  the  rocks  to  which  she  had  been  traced,  and  peered 
and  poked  in  vain.  The  tide  ebbed,  and  the  tide  flowed ;  the 
summer  went  on,  and  the  autumn  came.  And  the  Quick- 
sand, which  hid  her  body,  hid  her  secret  too. 

The  news  of  Mr.  Franklin's  departure  from  England  on 
the  Sunday  morning,  and  the  news  of  my  lady's  arrival  in 
London  with  Miss  Rachel  on  the  Monday  afternoon,  had 
reached  me.  as  you  are  aware,  by  the  Tuesday's  post.  The 
Wednesday  came,  and  brought  nothing.  The  Thursday  pro- 
duced a  second  budget  of  news  from  Penelope. 

My  girl's  letter  informed  me  that  some  great  London  doc- 
tor had  been  consulted  about  her  young  lady,  and  had  earned 
a  guinea  by  remarking  that  she  had  better  be  amused. 
Flower-shows,  operas,  balls — there  was  a  whole  round  of 
gayeties  in  prospect ;  and  Miss  Rachel,  to  her  mother's  aston- 
ishment, eagerly  took  to  it  all.  Mr.  Godfrey  had  called ;  evi- 
dently as  sweet  as  ever  on  his  cousin,  in  spite  of  the  reception 
he  had  met  with,  when  he  tried  his  luck  on  the  occasion  of 
the  birthday.  To  Penelope's  great  regret,  he  had  been  most 
graciously  received,  and  had  added  Miss  Rachel's  name  to 
one  of  his  Ladies'  Charities  on  the  spot.  My  mistress  was 
reported  to  be  out  of  spirits,  and  to  have  held  two  long  inter- 
views with  her  lawyer.  Certain  speculations  followed,  re- 
ferring to  a  poor  relation  of  the  family — one  Miss  Clack, 
whom  I  have  mentioned  in  my  account  of  the  birthday  din- 
^*  209 


THE  MOONSTONE 

ner,  as  sitting  next  to  Mr.  Godfrey,  and  having  a  pretty  taste 
in  champagne.  Penelope  was  astonished  that  Miss  Clack 
had  not  called  yet.  Surely  she  would  not  be  long  before  she 
fastened  herself  on  my  lady  as  usual ! — and  so  on,  and  so  on, 
in  the  way  women  have  of  girding  at  each  other,  on,  and 
off,  paper.  This  would  not  have  been  worth  mentioning  but 
for  one  reason.  I  hear  you  are  likely  to  meet  with  Miss  Clack. 
In  that  case,  don't  believe  what  she  says  of  me. 

On  Friday  nothing  happened — except  that  one  of  the  dogs 
showed  signs  of  a  breaking-out  behind  the  ears.  I  gave  him 
a  dose  of  syrup  of  buckthorn,  and  put  him  on  a  diet  of  pot- 
liquor  and  vegetables  till  further  orders.  Excuse  my  men- 
tioning this.  It  has  slipped  in  somehow.  Pass  it  over,  please. 
I  am  fast  coming  to  the  end  of  my  offenses  against  your  cul- 
tivated modern  taste.  Besides,  the  dog  was  a  good  creature, 
and  deserved  a  good  physicking;  he  did  indeed. 

Saturday,  the  last  day  of  the  week,  is  also  the  last  day  in 
my  narrative. 

The  morning's  post  brought  me  a  surprise  in  the  shape  of 
a  London  newspaper.  The  handwriting  on  the  direction 
puzzled  me.  I  compared  it  with  the  money-lender's  name 
and  address  as  recorded  in  my  pocket-book,  and  identified  it 
at  once  as  the  writing  of  Sergeant  Cuff. 

Looking  through  the  paper  eagerly  enough,  after  this  dis- 
covery, I  found  an  ink-mark  drawn  round  one  of  the  police 
reports.  Here  it  is  at  your  service.  Read  it  as  I  read  it,  and 
you  will  set  the  right  value  on  the  Sergeant's  polite  attention 
in  sending  me  the  news  of  the  day  : 

"Lambeth. — Shortly  before  the  closing  of  the  court,  Mr. 
Septimus  Luker,  the  well-known  dealer  in  ancient  gems, 
carvings,  intaglii,  etc.,  etc.,  applied  to  the  sitting  magistrate 
for  advice.  The  applicant  stated  that  he  had  been  annoyed, 
at  intervals  throughout  the  day,  by  the  proceedings  of  some 
of  those  strolling  Indians  who  infest  the  streets.  The  per- 
sons complained  of  were  three  in  number.  After  having 
been  sent  away  by  the  police,  they  had  returned  again  and 
again,  and  had  attempted  to  enter  the  house  on  pretense  of 
asking  for  charity.     Warned  off  in  the  front,  they  had  been 

2IO 


THE  MOONSTONE 

discovered  again  at  the  back  of  the  premises.  Besides  the 
annoyance  complained  of,  Mr.  Luker  expressed  himself  as 
being  under  some  apprehension  that  robbery  might  be  con- 
templated. His  collection  contained  many  unique  gems,  both 
classical  and  Oriental,  of  the  highest  value.  He  had  only  the 
day  before  been  compelled  to  dismiss  a  skilled  workman  in 
ivory  carving  from  his  employment  (a  native  of  India,  as  we 
understood)  on  suspicion  of  attempted  theft;  and  he  felt 
by  no  means  sure  that  this  man  and  the  street- jugglers  of 
whom  he  complained  might  not  be  acting  in  concert.  It  might 
be  their  object  to  collect  a  crowd,  and  create  a  disturbance 
in  the  street,  and,  in  the  confusion  thus  caused,  to  obtain 
access  to  the  house.  In  reply  to  the  magistrate,  Mr.  Luker 
admitted  that  he  had  no  evidence  to  produce  of  any  attempt 
at  robbery  being  in  contemplation.  He  could  speak  positively 
to  the  annoyance  and  interruption  caused  by  the  Indians,  but 
not  to  any  thing  else.  The  magistrate  remarked  that,  if  the 
annoyance  were  repeated,  the  applicant  could  summon  the 
Indians  to  that  court,  where  they  might  easily  be  dealt  with 
under  the  Act.  As  to  the  valuables  in  Mr.  Luker's  posses- 
sion, Mr.  Luker  himself  must  take  the  best  measures  for  their 
safe  custody.  He  would  do  well,  perhaps,  to  communicate 
with  the  police,  and  to  adopt  such  additional  precautions  as 
their  experience  might  suggest.  The  applicant  thanked  his 
worship  and  withdrew." 

One  of  the  wise  ancients  is  reported,  I  forgot  on  what  occa- 
sion, as  having  recommended  his  fellow-creatures  to  "look  to 
the  end."  Looking  to  the  end  of  these  pages  of  mine,  and 
wondering  for  some  days  past  how  I  should  manage  to  write 
it,  I  find  my  plain  statement  of  facts  coming  to  a  conclusion, 
most  appropriately,  of  its  own  self.  We  have  gone  on,  in 
this  matter  of  the  Moonstone,  from  one  marvel  to  another; 
and  here  we  end  with  the  greatest  marvel  of  all — namely, 
the  accomplishment  of  Sergeant  Cuff's  three  predictions  in 
less  than  a  week  from  the  time  when  he  had  made  them. 

After  hearing  from  the  Yollands  on  the  Monday,  I  had 
now  heard  of  the  Indians,  and  heard  of  the  money-lender,  in 
the  news  from  London — Miss  Rachel  herself,  remember,  be- 
ing also  in  London  at  the  time.  You  see,  I  put  things  at 
their  worst,  even  when  they  tell  dead  against  my  own  view. 

211 


THE  MOONSTONE 

If  you  desert  me,  and  side  with  the  Sergeant,  on  the  evidence 
before  you — if  the  only  rational  explanation  you  can  see  is, 
that  Miss  Rachel  and  Mr.  Luker  must  have  got  together,  and 
that  the  Moonstone  must  be  now  in  pledge  in  the  money- 
lender's house — I  own  I  can't  blame  you  for  arriving  at  that 
conclusion.  In  the  dark  I  have  brought  you  thus  far.  In 
the  dark  I  am  compelled  to  leave  you  with  my  best  respects. 

Why  compelled?  it  may  be  asked.  Why  not  take  the  per- 
sons who  have  gone  along  with  me  so  far  up  into  those 
regions  of  superior  enlightenment  in  which  I  sit  myself? 

In  answer  to  this  I  can  only  state  that  I  am  acting  under 
orders,  and  that  those  orders  have  been  given  to  me,  as  I 
understand,  in  the  interests  of  truth.  I  am  forbidden  to  tell 
more  in  this  narrative  than  I  knew  myself  at  the  time.  Or, 
to  put  it  plainer,  I  am  to  keep  strictly  within  the  limits  of 
my  own  experience,  and  am  not  to  inform  you  of  what  other 
persons  told  me — for  the  very  sufficient  reason  that  you  are 
to  have  the  information  from  those  other  persons  themselves 
at  first  hand.  In  this  matter  of  the  Moonstone  the  plan  is, 
not  to  present  reports,  but  to  produce  witnesses.  I  picture 
to  myself  a  member  of  the  family  reading  these  pages  fifty 
years  hence.  Lord !  what  a  compliment  he  will  feel  it,  to  be 
asked  to  take  nothing  on  hearsay,  and  to  be  treated  in  all 
respects  like  a  Judge  on  the  Bench. 

At  this  place,  then,  we  part — for  the  present,  at  least — after 
long  journeying  together,  with  a  companionable  feeling,  I 
hope,  on  both  sides.  The  devil's  dance  of  the  Indian  Diamond 
has  threaded  its  way  to  London ;  and  to  London  you  must 
go  after  it,  leaving  me  at  the  country  house.  Please  to  excuse 
the  faults  of  this  composition — my  talking  so  much  of  my- 
self, and  being  too  familiar,  I  am  afraid,  with  you.  I  mean 
no  harm ;  and  I  drink  most  respectfully,  having  just  done 
dinner,  to  your  health  and  prosperity,  in  a  tankard  of  her 
ladyship's  ale.  May  you  find  in  these  leaves  of  my  writing 
what  Robinson  Crusoe  found  in  his  Experience  on  the  desert 
island — namely,  "something  to  comfort  yourselves  from,  and 
to  set,  in  the  description  of  Good  and  Evil,  on  the  Credit  Side 
of  the  Account." — Farewell. 

THE   END   OF  THE    FIRST   PERIOD. 
2X2 


SECOND  PERIOD.     THE  DISCOVERY  OF  THE 
TRUTH.    (1848-1849.) 

The  Events  related  in  several  Narratives. 

FIRST    NARRATIVE 

Contributed  by  Miss  Clack,  Niece  of  tlw  late  Sir  John  Verinder. 


CHAPTER  I. 


I  AM  indebted  to  my  dear  parents,  both  now  in  heaven,  for 
having  had  habits  of  order  and  regularity  instilled  into  me 
at  a  very  early  age. 

In  that  happy  by-gone  time  I  was  taught  to  keep  my  hair 
tidy  at  all  hours  of  the  day  and  night,  and  to  fold  up  every 
article  of  my  clothing  carefully,  in  the  same  order,  on  the 
same  chair,  in  the  same  place  at  the  foot  of  the  bed,  before 
retiring  to  rest.  An  entry  of  the  day's  events  in  my  little 
diary  invariably  preceded  the  folding  up.  The  Evening 
Hymn,  repeated  in  bed,  invariably  followed  the  folding  up. 
And  the  sweet  sleep  of  childhood  invariably  followed  the 
Evening  Hymn. 

In  later  life,  alas !  the  Hymn  has  been  succeeded  by  sad 
and  bitter  meditations ;  and  the  sweet  sleep  has  been  but  ill 
exchanged  for  the  broken  slumbers  which  haunt  the  uneasy 
pillow  of  care.  On  the  other  hand,  I  have  continued  to  fold 
my  clothes,  and  to  keep  my  little  diary.  The  former  habit 
links  me  to  my  happy  childhood — before  papa  was  ruined. 
The  latter  habit — hitherto  mainly  useful  in  helping  me  to 
discipline  the  fallen  nature  which  we  all  inherit  from  Adam — 
has  unexpectedly  proved  important  to  my  humble  interests 
in  quite  another  way.  It  has  enabled  poor  Me  to  serve  the 
caprice  of  a  wealthy  member  of  our  family.  I  am  fortunate 
enough  to  be  useful,  in  the  worldly  sense  of  the  word,  to  Mr. 
Franklin  Blake. 

213 


THE  MOONSTONE 

I  have  been  cut  off  from  all  news  of  the  prosperous  branch 
of  the  family  for  some  time  past.  When  we  are  isolated  and 
poor  we  are  not  infrequently  forgotten,  I  am  now  living, 
for  economy's  sake,  in  a  little  town  in  Brittany,  inhabited  by 
a  select  circle  of  serious  English  friends,  and  possessed  of  the 
advantages  of  a  Protestant  clergyman  and  a  cheap  market. 

In  this  retirement — a  Patmos  amidst  the  howling  ocean 
of  popery  that  surrounds  us — a  letter  from  England  has 
reached  me  at  last.  I  find  my  insignificant  existence  sud- 
denly remembered  by  Mr.  Franklin  Blake.  My  wealthy  rel- 
ative— would  that  I  could  add  my  spiritually-wealthy  rela- 
tive ! — writes  without  even  an  attempt  at  disguising  that  he 
wants  something  of  me.  The  whim  has  seized  him  to  stir 
up  the  deplorable  scandal  of  the  Moonstone ;  and  I  am  to 
help  him  by  writing  the  account  of  what  I  myself  witnessed 
during  my  sojourn  at  Aunt  Verinder's  house  in  London. 
Pecuniary  remuneration  is  offered  to  me — with  the  want  of 
feeling  peculiar  to  the  rich.  I  am  to  re-open  wounds  that 
Time  has  barely  closed ;  I  am  to  recall  the  most  intensely 
painful  remembrances — and  this  done,  I  am  to  feel  myself 
compensated  by  a  new  laceration,  in  the  shape  of  Mr.  Blake's 
check.  My  nature  is  weak.  It  cost  me  a  hard  struggle,  be- 
fore Christian  humility  conquered  sinful  pride,  and  self-denial 
accepted  the  check. 

Without  my  diary,  I  doubt — pray  let  me  express  it  in  the 
grossest  terms ! — if  I  could  have  honestly  earned  my  money. 
With  my  diary,  the  poor  laborer,  who  forgives  Mr.  Blake  for 
insulting  her,  is  worthy  of  her  hire.  Nothing  escaped  nle  at 
the  time  when  I  was  staying  with  dear  Avmt  Verinder.  Every 
thing  was  entered,  thanks  to  my  early  training,  day  by  day 
as  it  happened ;  and  every  thing,  down  to  the  smallest  par- 
ticular, shall  be  told  here.  My  sacred  regard  for  truth  is, 
thank  God !  far  above  my  respect  for  persons.  It  \^ill  be  easy 
for  Mr.  Blake  to  suppress  what  may  not  prove  to  be  suffi- 
ciently flattering  in  these  pages  to  the  person  chiefly  con- 
cerned in  them.  He  had  purchased  my  time;  but  not  even 
his  wealth  can  purchase  my  conscience  too.^ 

1  Note.  Added  by  Franklin  Blake. — Miss  Clack  may  make  her  mind  quite 
easy  on  this  point.  Nothing  will  be  added,  altered,  or  removed,  in  her 
manuscript,  or  in  any  of  the  other  manuscripts  which  pass  through  my  hands. 

214 


THE  MOONSTONE 

My  diary  informs  me  that  I  was  accidentally  passing-  Aunt 
Verinder's  house  in  Montagu  Square,  on  Monday,  3d  July, 
1848. 

Seeing  the  shutters  opened,  and  the  blinds  drawn  up,  I 
felt  that  it  would  be  an  act  of  polite  attention  to  knock  and 
make  inquiries.  The  person  who  answered  the  door  informed 
me  that  my  aunt  and  her  daughter — I  really  can  not  call  her 
my  cousin ! — had  arrived  from  the  country  a  week  since,  and 
meditated  making  some  stay  in  London.  I  sent  up  a  mes- 
sage at  once,  declining  to  disturb  them,  and  only  begging  to 
know  whether  I  could  be  of  any  use. 

The  person  who  answered  the  door  took  my  message  in 
insolent  silence,  and  left  me  standing  in  the  hall.  She  is  the 
daughter  of  a  heathen  old  man  named  Betteredge — long,  too 
long,  tolerated  in  my  aunt's  family.  I  sat  down  in  the  hall 
to  wait  for  my  answer — and  having  always  a  few  tracts  in 
my  bag,  I  selected  one  which  proved  to  be  quite  providen- 
tially applicable  to  the  person  who  answered  the  door.  The 
hall  was  dirty  and  the  chair  was  hard ;  but  the  blessed  con- 
sciousness of  returning  good  for  evil  raised  me  quite  above 
any  trifling  considerations  of  that  kind.  The  tract  was  one 
of  a  series  addressed  to  young  women  on  the  sinfulness  of 
dress.  In  style  it  was  devoutly  familiar.  Its  title  was,  "A 
Word  With  You  On  Your  Cap-Ribbons." 

"My  lady  is  much  obliged,  and  begs  you  will  come  and 
lunch  to-morrow  at  two." 

I  passed  over  the  manner  in  which  she  gave  her  message, 
and  the  dreadful  boldness  of  her  look.  I  thanked  this  young 
castaway ;  and  I  said,  in  a  tone  of  Christian  interest,  "Will 
you  favor  me  by  accepting  a  tract?" 

Whatever  opinions  any  of  the  writers  may  express,  whatever  peculiarities  of 
treatment  may  mark,  and  perhaps,  in  a  literary  sense,  disfigure  the  narratives 
which  I  am  now  collecting,  not  a  line  will  be  tampered  with  anywhere,  from 
first  to  last.  As  genuine  documents  they  are  sent  to  me  —  and  as  genuine 
documents  I  shall  preserve  them,  indorsed  by  the  attestations  of  witnesses 
who  can  speak  to  the  facts.  It  only  remains  to  be  added,  that  "the  person 
chiefly  concerned"  in  Miss  Clack's  narrative  is  happy  enough  at  the  present 
moment  not  only  to  brave  the  smartest  exercise  of  Miss  Clack's  pen,  but  even 
to  recognize  its  unquestionable  value  as  an  instrument  for  the  exhibition  of 
Miss  Clack's  character. 


THE  MOONSTONE 

She  looked  at  the  title.  "Is  it  written  by  a  man  or  a 
woman,  miss?  If  it's  written  by  a  woman,  I  had  rather  not- 
read  it  on  that  account.  If  it's  written  by  a  man,  I  beg  to 
inform  him  that  he  knows  nothing  about  it."  She  handed 
me  back  the  tract  and  opened  the  door.  We  must  sow  the 
good  seed  somehow.  I  waited  till  the  door  was  shut  on  me, 
and  slipped  the  tract  into  the  letter-box.  When  I  had  dropped 
another  tract  through  the  area  railings,  I  felt  relieved,  in 
some  small  degree,  of  a  heavy  responsibility  toward  others. 

We  had  a  meeting  that  evening  of  the  Select  Committee 
of  the  Mothers'-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society.  The  ob- 
ject of  this  excellent  Charity  is — as  all  serious  people  know 
— to  rescue  unredeemed  fathers'  trousers  from  the  pawn- 
broker, and  to  prevent  their  resumption,  on  the  part  of  the 
irreclaimable  parent,  by  abridging  them  immediately  to  suit 
the  proportions  of  the  innocent  son.  I  was  a  member,  at  that 
time,  of  the  select  committee ;  and  I  mention  the  Society  here, 
because  my  precious  and  admirable  friend,  Mr.  Godfrey 
Ablewhite,  was  associated  with  our  work  of  moral  and  mate- 
rial usefulness.  I  had  expected  to  see  him  in  the  board-room 
on  the  Monday  evening  of  which  I  am  now  writing,  and  had 
purposed  to  tell  him  when  we  met  of  dear  Aunt  Verinder's 
arrival  in  London.  To  my  great  disappointment,  he  never 
appeared.  On  my  expressing  a  feeling  of  surprise  at  his 
absence,  my  sisters  of  the  Committee  all  looked  up  together 
from  their  trousers,  we  had  a  great  pressure  of  business  that 
night,  and  asked  in  amazement  if  I  had  not  heard  the  news. 
I  acknowledged  my  ignorance,  and  was  then  told  for  the 
first  time  of  an  event  which  forms,  so  to  speak,  the  starting- 
point  of  this  narrative.  On  the  previous  Friday  two  gentle- 
men— occupying  widejy  different  positions  in  society — had 
been  the  victims  of  an  outrage  which  had  startled  all  London. 
One  of  the  gentlemen  was  Mr.  Septimus  Luker,  of  Lambeth. 
The  other  was  Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite. 

Living  in  my  present  isolation,  I  have  no  means  of  intro- 
ducing the  newspaper  account  of  the  outrage  into  my  nar- 
rative. I  was  also  deprived,  at  the  time,  of  the  inestimable 
advantage  of  hearing  the  events  related  by  the  fervid  elo- 
quence of  Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite.  All  I  can  do  is  to  state 
the  facts  as  they  were  stated,  on  that  Monday  evening,  to  me ; 

216 


THE  MOONSTONE 

proceeding  on  the  plan  which  I  have  been  taught  from  in- 
fancy to  adopt  in  folding  up  my  clothes.  Every  thing  shall 
be  put  neatly,  and  every  thing  shall  be  put  in  its  place.  These 
lines  are  written  by  a  poor  weak  woman.  From  a  poor  weak 
woman,  who  will  be  cruel  enough  to  expect  more? 

The  date — thanks  to  my  dear  parents,  no  dictionary  that 
ever  was  written  can  be  more  particular  than  I  am  about 
dates — was  Friday,  June  30,   1848. 

Early  on  that  memorable  day  our  gifted  Mr.  Godfrey  hap- 
pened to  be  cashing  a  check  at  a  banking-house  in  Lombard 
Street.  The  name  of  the  firm  is  accidentally  blotted  in  my 
diary,  and  my  sacred  regard  for  truth  forbids  me  to  hazard 
a  guess  in  a  matter  of  this  kind.  Fortunately,  the  name  of 
the  firm  doesn't  matter.  What  does  matter  is  a  circum- 
stance that  occurred  when  Mr.  Godfrey  had  transacted  his 
business.  On  gaining  the  door  he  encountered  a  gentleman 
— a  perfect  stranger  to  him — who  was  accidentally  leaving 
the  office  exactly  at  the  same  time  as  himself.  A  momen- 
tary contest  of  politeness  ensued  between  them  as  to  who 
should  be  the  first  to  pass  through  the  door  of  the  bank.  The 
stranger  insisted  on  making  Mr.  Godfrey  precede  him;  Mr. 
Godfrey  said  a  few  civil  words ;  they  bowed,  and  parted  in 
the  street. 

Thoughtless  and  superficial  people  may  say,  Here  is  surely 
a  very  trumpery  little  incident  related  in  an  absurdly  circum- 
stantial manner.  Oh,  my  young  friends  and  fellow-sinners ! 
beware  of  presuming  to  exercise  your  poor  carnal  reason. 
Oh,  be  morally  tidy !  Let  your  faith  be  as  your  stockings, 
and  your  stockings  as  your  faith.  Both  ever  spotless,  and 
both  ready  to  put  on  at  a  moment's  notice ! 

I  beg  a  thousand  pardons.  I  have  fallen  insensibly  into 
my  Sunday-school  style.  Most  inappropriate  in  such  a  record 
as  this.  Let  me  try  to  be  worldly — let  me  say  that  trifles, 
in  this  case  as  in  many  others,  led  to  terrible  results.  Merely 
premising  that  the  polite  stranger  was  Mr.  Luker,  of  Lam- 
beth, we  will  now  follow  Mr.  Godfrey  home  to  his  residence 
at  Kilburn. 

He  found  waiting  for  him,  in  the  hall,  a  poorly  clad  but 
delicate  and  interesting  looking  little  boy.  The  boy  handed 
him  a  letter,  merely  mentioning  that  he  had  been  intrusted 

217 


THE  MOONSTONE 

with  it  by  an  old  lady  whom  he  did  not  know,  and  who  had 
given  him  no  instructions  to  wait  for  an  answer.  Such  inci- 
dents as  these  were  not  uncommon  in  Mr.  Godfrey's  large 
experience  as  a  promoter  of  public  charities.  He  let  the  boy 
go,  and  opened  the  letter. 

The  handwriting  was  entirely  unfamiliar  to  him.  It  re- 
quested his  attendance,  within  an  hour's  time,  at  a  house  in 
Northumberland  Street,  Strand,  which  he  had  never  had  oc- 
casion to  enter  before.  The  object  sought  was  to  obtain  from 
the  worthy  manager  certain  details  on  the  subject  of  the 
Mothers '-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society,  and  the  informa- 
tion was  wanted  by  an  elderly  lady  who  proposed  adding 
largely  to  the  resources  of  the  charity,  if  her  questions  were 
met  by  satisfactory  replies.  She  mentioned  her  name,  and 
she  added  that  the  shortness  of  her  stay  in  London  prevented 
her  from  giving  any  longer  notice  to  the  eminent  philan- 
thropist whom  she  addressed. 

Ordinary  people  might  have  hesitated  before  setting  aside 
their  own  engagements  to  suit  the  convenience  of  a  stranger. 
The  Christian  Hero  never  hesitates  where  good  is  to  be  done. 
Mr.  Godfrey  instantly  turned  back,  and  proceeded  to  the 
house  in  Northumberland  Street.  A  most  respectable  though 
somewhat  corpulent  man  answered  the  door,  and,  on  hearing 
Mr.  Godfrey's  name,  immediately  conducted  him  into  an 
empty  apartment  at  the  back,  on  the  drawing-room  floor.  He 
noticed  two  unusual  things  on  entering  the  room.  One  of 
them  was  a  faint  odor  of  musk  and  camphor.  The  other  was 
an  ancient  Oriental  manuscript,  richly  illuminated  with  Indian 
figures  and  devices,  that  lay  open  to  inspection  on  a  table. 

He  was  looking  at  the  book,  the  position  of  which  caused 
him  to  stand  with  his  back  turned  toward  the  closed  folding- 
doors  communicating  with  the  front-room,  when,  without  the 
slightest  previous  noise  to  warn  him,  he  felt  himself  sud- 
denly seized  round  the  neck  from  behind.  He  had  just  time 
to  notice  that  the  arm  round  his  neck  was  naked  and  of  a 
tawny-brown  color,  before  his  eyes  were  bandaged,  his  mouth 
was  gagged,  and  he  was  thrown  helpless  on  the  floor  by,  as 
he  judged,  two  men.  A  third  rifled  his  pockets,  and — if,  as 
a  lady,  I  may  venture  to  use  such  an  expression — searched 
him,  without  ceremony,  through  and  through  to  his  skin, 

218 


THE  MOONSTONE 

Here  I  should  greatly  enjoy  saying  a  few  cheering  words 
on  the  devout  confidence  which  could  alone  have  sustained 
Mr.  Godfrey  in  an  emergency  so  terrible  as  this.  Perhaps, 
however,  the  position  and  appearance  of  my  admirable  friend 
at  the  culminating  period  of  the  outrage,  as  above  described, 
are  hardly  within  the  proper  limits  of  female  discussion.  Let 
me  pass  over  the  next  few  moments,  and  return  to  Mr.  God- 
frey at  the  time  when  the  odious  search  of  his  person  had 
been  completed.  The  outrage  had  been  perpetrated  through- 
out in  dead  silence.  At  the  end  of  it  some  words  were  ex- 
changed, among  the  invisible  wretches,  in  a  language  which 
he  did  not  understand,  but  in  terms  which  were  plainly  ex- 
pressive, to  his  cultivated  ear,  of  disappointment  and  rage. 
He  was  suddenly  lifted  from  the  ground,  placed  in  a  chair, 
and  bound  there  hand  and  foot.  The  next  moment  he  felt 
the  air  flowing  in  from  the  open  door,  listened  and  felt  per- 
suaded that  he  was  alone  again  in  the  room. 

An  interval  elapsed,  and  he  heard  a  sound  below  like  the 
rustling  sound  of  a  woman's  dress.  It  advanced  up  the  stairs, 
and  stopped.  A  female  scream  rent  the  atmosphere  of  guilt. 
A  man's  voice  below  exclaimed,  "Halloo !"  A  man's  feet 
ascended  the  stairs.  Mr.  Godfrey  felt  Christian  fingers  un- 
fastening his  bandage,  and  extracting  his  gag.  He  looked 
in  amazement  at  two  respectable  strangers,  and  faintly  artic- 
ulated, "What  does  it  mean  ?"  The  two  respectable  strangers 
looked  back,  and  said,  "Exactly  the  question  we  were  going 
to  ask  yoii." 

The  inevitable  explanation  followed.  No !  Let  me  be 
scrupulously  particular.  Sal  volatile  and  water  followed,  to 
compose  dear  Mr.  Godfrey's  nerves.  The  explanation  came 
next. 

It  appeared,  from  the  statement  of  the  landlord  and  land- 
lady of  the  house,  persons  of  good  repute  in  the  neighbor- 
hood, that  their  first  and  second  floor  apartments  had  been 
engaged,  on  the  previous  day,  for  a  week  certain,  by  a  most 
respectable-looking  gentleman — the  same  who  has  been  al- 
ready described  as  answering  the  door  to  Mr.  Godfrey's 
knock.  The  gentleman  had  paid  the  week's  rent  and  all  the 
week's  extras  in  advance,  stating  that  the  apartments  were 
wanted  for  three  Oriental  noblemen,  friends  of  his,  who  were 

2x9 


THE  MOONSTONE 

visiting  England  for  the  first  time.  Early  on  the  morning 
of  the  outrage  two  of  the  Oriental  strangers,  accompanied  by 
their  respectable  English  friend,  took  possession  of  the  apart- 
ments. The  third  was  expected  to  join  them  shortly  ;  and 
the  luggage,  reported  as  very  bulky,  was  announced  to  follow 
when  it  had  passed  through  the  Custom-house,  late  in  the 
afternoon.  Not  more  than  ten  minutes  previous  to  Mr.  God- 
frey's visit  the  third  foreigner  had  arrived.  Nothing  out  of 
the  common  had  happened,  to  the  knowledge  of  the  landlord 
and  landlady  down  stairs,  until  within  the  last  five  minutes 
— when  they  had  seen  the  three  foreigners,  accompanied  by 
their  respectable  English  friend,  all  leave  the  house  together, 
walking  quietly  in  the  direction  of  the  Strand.  Remember- 
ing that  a  visitor  had  called,  and  not  having  seen  the  visitor 
also  leave  the  house,  the  landlady  had  thought  it  rather 
strange  that  the  gentleman  should  be  left  by  himself  up  stairs. 
After  a  short  discussion  with  her  husband,  she  had  considered 
it  advisable  to  ascertain  whether  any  thing  was  wrong.  The 
result  had  followed,  as  I  have  already  attempted  to  describe 
it ;  and  there  the  explanation  of  the  landlord  and  the  landlady 
came  to  an  end. 

An  investigation  was  next  made  in  the  room.  Dear  Mr. 
Godfrey's  property  was  found  scattered  in  all  directions. 
When  the  articles  were  collected,  however,  nothing  was  miss- 
ing; his  watch,  chain,  purse,  keys,  pocket-handkerchief,  note- 
book, and  all  his  loose  papers,  had  been  closely  examined, 
and  had  then  been  left  unharmed  to  be  resumed  by  the  owner. 
In  the  same  way,  not  the  smallest  morsel  of  property  belong- 
ing to  the  proprietors  of  the  house  had  been  abstracted.  The 
Oriental  noblemen  had  removed  their  own  illuminated  manu- 
script, and  had  removed  nothing  else. 

What  did  it  mean?  Taking  the  worldly  point  of  view,  it 
appeared  to  mean  that  Mr.  Godfrey  had  been  the  victim  of 
some  incomprehensible  error,  committed  by  certain  unknown 
men.  A  dark  conspiracy  was  on  foot  in  the  midst  of  us ; 
and  our  beloved  and  innocent  friend  had  been  entangled  in 
its  meshes.  When  the  Christian  Hero  of  a  hundred  chari- 
table victories  plunges  into  a  pitfall  that  has  been  dug  for 
him  by  mistake,  oh,  what  a  warning  it  is  to  the  rest  of  us  to 
be  unceasingly  on  our  guard !     How  soon  may  our  own  evil 


THE  MOONSTONE 

passions  prove  to  be  Oriental  noblemen  who  pounce  on  us 
unawares ! 

I  could  write  pages  of  affectionate  warning  on  this  one 
theme,  but,  alas !  I  am  not  permitted  to  improve — I  am  con- 
demned to  narrate.  My  wealthy  relative's  check — henceforth 
the  incubus  of  my  existence — warns  me  that  I  have  not  done 
with  this  record  of  violence  yet.  We  must  leave  Mr. 
Godfrey  to  recover  in  Northumberland  Street,  and  must 
follow  the  proceedings  of  Mr.  Luker,  at  a  later  period  of 
the  day. 

After  leaving  the  bank,  Mr.  Luker  had  visited  various 
parts  of  London  on  business  errands.  Returning  to  his  own 
residence,  he  found  a  letter  waiting  for  him,  which  was  de- 
scribed as  having  been  left  a  short  time  previously  by  a  boy. 
In  this  case,  as  in  ]\Ir.  Godfrey's  case,  the  handwriting  was 
strange ;  but  the  name  mentioned  was  the  name  of  one  of 
Mr.  Luker's  customers.  His  correspondent  announced,  writ- 
ing in  the  third  person — apparently  by  the  hand  of  a  deputy, 
that  he  had  been  unexpectedly  summoned  to  London.  He 
had  just  established  himself  in  lodgings  in  Alfred  Place,  Tot- 
tenham Court  road ;  and  he  desired  to  see  Mr.  Luker  im- 
mediately, on  the  subject  of  a  purchase  which  he  contem- 
plated making.  The  gentleman  was  an'  enthusiastic  collector 
of  Oriental  antiquities,  and  had  been  for  many  years  a  lib- 
eral patron  of  the  establishment  in  Lambeth.  Oh,  when  shall 
we  wean  ourselves  from  the  worship  of  Mammon !  Mr. 
Luker  called  a  cab,  and  drove  off  instantly  to  his  liberal 
patron. 

Exactly  what  had  happened  to  ]\Ir.  Godfrey  in  North- 
umberland Street  now  happened  to  Mr.  Luker  in  Alfred 
Place.  Once  more  the  respectable  man  answered  the  door, 
and  showed  the  visitor  up  stairs  into  the  back  drawing-room. 
There,  again,  lay  the  illuminated  manuscript  on  a  table.  Mr. 
Luker's  attention  was  absorbed,  as  Mr.  Godfrey's  attention 
had  been  absorbed,  by  this  beautiful  work  of  Indian  art.  He 
too  was  aroused  from  his  studies  by  a  tawny  naked  arm  round 
his  throat,  by  a  bandage  over  his  eyes,  and  by  a  gag  in  his 
mouth.  He  too  was  thrown  prostrate,  and  searched  to  the 
skin.  A  longer  interval  had  then  elapsed  than  had  passed 
in  the  experience  of  Mr.  Godfrey;  but  it  had  ended  as  before, 


THE  MOONSTONE 

in  the  persons  of  the  house  suspecting  something  wrong,  and 
going  up  stairs  to  see  what  had  happened.  Precisely  the 
same  explanation  which  the  landlord  in  Northumberland 
Street  had  given  to  Mr.  Godfrey  the  landlord  in  Alfred  Place 
now  gave  to  Mr.  Luker.  Both  had  been  imposed  on  in  the 
same  way  by  the  plausible  address  and  the  well-filled  purse 
of  the  respectable  stranger,  who  introduced  himself  as  acting 
for  his  foreign  friends.  The  one  point  of  difference  between 
the  two  cases  occurred  when  the  scattered  contents  of  Mr. 
Luker's  pockets  were  being  collected  from  the  floor.  His 
watch  and  purse  were  safe,  but,  less  fortunate  than  Mr.  God- 
frey, one  of  the  loose  papers  that  he  carried  about  him  had 
been  taken  away.  The  paper  in  question  acknowledged  the 
receipt  of  a  valuable  of  great  price  which  Mr.  Luker  had 
that  day  left  in  the  care  of  his  bankers.  This  document  would 
be  useless  for  purposes  of  fraud,  inasmuch  as  it  provided 
that  the  valuable  should  only  be  given  up  on  the  personal 
application  of  the  owner.  As  soon  as  he  recovered  himself, 
Mr.  Luker  hurried  to  the  bank,  on  the  chance  that  the  thieves 
who  had  robbed  him  might  ignorantly  present  themselves 
with  the  receipt.  Nothing  had  been  seen  of  them  when  he 
arrived  at  the  establishment,  and  nothing  was  seen  of  them 
afterward.  Their  respectable  English  friend  had,  in  the 
opinion  of  the  bankers,  looked  the  receipt  over  before  they 
attempted  to  make  use  of  it,  and  had  given  them  the  necessary 
warning  in  good  time. 

Information  of  both  outrages  was  communicated  to  the 
police,  and  the  needful  investigations  were  pursued,  I  believe, 
with  great  energy.  The  authorities  held  that  a  robbery  had 
been  planned,  on  insufficient  information  received  by  the 
thieves.  They  had  been  plainly  not  sure  whether  Mr.  Luker 
had,  or  had  not,  trusted  the  transmission  of  his  precious  gem 
to  another  person,  and  poor  polite  Mr.  Godfrey  had  paid  the 
penalty  of  having  been  seen  accidentally  speaking  to  him. 
Add  to  this,  that  Mr.  Godfrey's  absence  from  our  Monday 
evening  meeting  had  been  occasioned  by  a  consultation  of  the 
authorities,  at  which  he  was  requested  to  assist — and  all  the 
explanations  required  being  now  given,  I  may  proceed  with 
the  simpler  story  of  my  own  little  personal  experiences  in 
Montagu  Square. 

222 


THE  MOONSTONE 

I  WAS  punctual  to  the  luncheon-hour  on  Tuesday.  Reference 
to  my  diary  shows  this  to  have  been  a  checkered  day — much 
in  it  to  be  devoutly  regretted,  much  in  it  to  be  devoutly  thank- 
ful for. 

Dear  Aunt  Verinder  received  me  with  her  usual  grace 
and  kindness.  But  I  noticed  after  a  little  while  that  some- 
thing was  wrong.  Certain  anxious  looks  escaped  my  aunt, 
all  of  which  took  the  direction  of  her  daughter.  I  never  see 
Rachel  myself  without  wondering  how  it  can  be  that  so 
insignificant-looking  a  person  should  be  the  child  of  such  dis- 
tinguished parents  as  Sir  John  and  Lady  Verinder.  On  this 
occasion,  however,  she  not  only  disappointed — she  really 
shocked  me.  There  was  an  absence  of  all  lady-like  restraint 
in  her  language  and  manner  most  painful  to  see.  She  was 
possessed  by  some  feverish  excitement  which  made  her  dis- 
tressingly loud  when  she  laughed,  and  sinfully  wasteful  and 
capricious  in  what  she  ate  and  drank  at  lunch.  I  felt  deeply 
for  her  poor  mother,  even  before  the  true  state  of  the  case 
had  been  confidentially  made  known  to  me. 

Luncheon  over,  my  aunt  said :  "Remember  what  the  doc- 
tor told  you,  Rachel,  about  quieting  yourself  with  a  book 
after  taking  your  meals." 

"Fll  go  into  the  library,  mamma,"  she  answered.  "But 
if  Godfrey  calls,  mind  I  am  told  of  it.  I  am  dying  for  more 
news  of  him,  after  his  adventure  in  Northumberland  Street." 
She  kissed  her  mother  on  the  forehead,  and  looked  my  way. 
"Good-bye,  Clack !"  she  said,  carelessly.  Her  insolence 
roused  no  angry  feeling  in  me.  I  only  made  a  private  memo- 
randum to  pray  for  her. 

When  we  were  left  by  ourselves  my  aunt  told  me  the  whole 
horrible  story  of  the  Indian  Diamond,  which,  I  am  happy  to 
know,  it  is  not  necessary  to  repeat  here.  She  did  not  conceal 
from  me  that  she  would  have  preferred  keeping  silence  on 
the  subject.  But  when  her  own  servants  all  knew  of  the  loss 
of  the  Moonstone,  and  when  some  of  the  circumstances  had 
actually  found  their  way  into  the  newspapers  —  when 
strangers  were  speculating  whether  there  was  any  connection 
between  what  had  happened  at  Lady  Verinder's  country 
house,  and  what  had  happened  in  Northumberland  Street 
and    Alfred    Place — concealment    was    not    to    be    thought 

223 


THE  MOONSTONE 

of;  and  perfect  frankness  became  a  necessity  as  well  as  a 
virtue. 

Some  persons,  hearing  what  I  now  heard,  would  have  been 
probably  overwhelmed  with  astonishment.  For  my  own  part, 
knowing  Rachel's  spirit  to  have  been  essentially  unregenerate 
from  her  childhood  upward,  I  was  prepared  for  whatever  my 
aunt  could  tell  me  on  the  subject  of  her  daughter.  It  might 
have  gone  on  from  bad  to  worse  till  it  ended  in  Murder;  and 
I  should  still  have  said  to  myself,  The  natural  result!  oh,  dear, 
dear,  the  natural  result !  The  one  thing  that  did  shock  me 
was  the  course  my  aunt  had  taken  under  the  circumstances. 
Here  surely  was  a  case  for  a  clergyman,  if  ever  there  was  one 
yet!  Lady  Verinder  had  thought  it  a  case  for  a  physician. 
All  my  poor  aunt's  early  life  had  been  passed  in  her  father's 
godless  household.  The  natural  result  again !  Oh,  dear, 
dear,  the  natural  result  again  ! 

"The  doctor  recommends  plenty  of  exercise  and  amuse- 
ment for  Rachel,  and  strongly  urges  me  to  keep  her  mind 
as  much  as  possible  from  dwelling  on  the  past,"  said  Lady 
Verinder. 

"Oh,  what  heathen  advice !"  I  thought  to  myself.  "In  this 
Christian  country,  what  heathen  advice !" 

My  aunt  went  on :  "I  do  my  best  to  carry  out  the  doctor's 
instructions.  But  this  strange  adventure  of  Godfrey's  hap- 
pens at  a  most  unfortunate  time.  Rachel  has  been  incessantly 
restless  and  excited  since  she  first  heard  of  it.  She  left  me 
no  peace  till  I  had  written  and  asked  my  nephew  Ablewhite 
to  come  here.  She  even  feels  an  interest  in  the  other 
person  who  was  roughly  used — Mr.  Luker,  or  some  such 
name — though  the  man  is,  of  course,  a  total  stranger  to 
her." 

"Your  knowledge  of  the  world,  dear  aunt,  is  superior  to 
mine,"  I  suggested,  diffidently.  "But  there  must  be  a  reason 
surely  for  this  extraordinary  conduct  on  Rachel's  part.  She 
is  keeping  a  sinful  secret  from  you  and  from  every  body. 
May  there  not  be  something  in  these  recent  events  which 
threatens  her  secret  with  discovery  ?" 

"Discovery?"  repeated  my  aunt.  "What  can  you  possibly 
mean?  Discovery  through  Mr.  Luker?  Discovery  through 
my  nephew?" 

224 


THE  MOONSTONE 

As  the  word  passed  her  lips  a  special  providence  occurred. 
The  servant  opened  the  door,  and  announced  Mr.  Godfrey 
Ablewhite. 


CHAPTER   n. 


MR,  GODFREY  followed  the  announcement  of  his  name 
— as  Mr,  Godfrey  does  every  thing  else — exactly  at  the 
right  time.  He  was  not  so  close  on  the  servant's  heels  as  to 
startle  us.  He  was  not  so  far  behind  as  to  cause  us  the  double 
inconvenience  of  a  pause  and  an  open  door.  It  is  in  the 
completeness  of  his  daily  life  that  the  true  Christian  appears. 
This  dear  man  was  very  complete. 

"Go  to  Miss  Verinder,"  said  my  aunt,  addressing  the  ser- 
vant, "and  tell  her  Mr.  Ablewhite  is  here." 

We  both  inquired  after  his  health.  We  both  asked  him 
together  whether  he  felt  like  himself  again,  after  his  terrible 
adventure  of  the  past  week.  With  perfect  tact  he  contrived 
to  answer  us  at  the  same  moment.  Lady  Verinder  had  his 
reply  in  words.     I  had  his  charming  smile. 

"What,"  he  cried,  with  infinite  tenderness,  "have  I  done 
to  deserve  all  this  sympathy  ?  My  dear  aunt !  my  dear  Miss 
Clack !  I  have  merely  been  mistaken  for  somebody  else.  I 
have  only  been  blindfolded ;  I  have  only  been  strangled ;  I 
have  only  been  thrown  flat  on  my  back,  on  a  very  thin  carpet 
covering  a  particularly  hard  floor.  Just  think  how  much 
worse  it  might  have  been !  I  might  have  been  murdered ;  I 
might  have  been  robbed.  What  have  I  lost?  Nothing  but 
nervous  force — which  the  law  doesn't  recognize  as  property; 
so  that,  strictly  speaking,  I  have  lost  nothing  at  all.  If  I 
could  have  had  my  own  way  I  would  have  kept  my  adventure 
to  myself — I  shrink  from  all  this  fuss  and  publicity.  But 
Mr.  Luker  made  his  injuries  public,  and  viy  injuries,  as  the 
necessary  consequence,  have  been  proclaimed  in  their  turn, 
I  have  become  the  property  of  the  newspapers  until  the 
gentle  reader  gets  sick  of  the  subject.  I  am  very  sick  indeed 
of  it  myself.  May  the  gentle  reader  soon  be  like  me !  And 
how  is  dear  Rachel?  Still  enjoying  the  gayeties  of  London? 
So  glad  to  hear  it !     Miss  Clack,  I  need  all  your  indulgence. 


15 


225 


THE  MOONSTONE 

I  am  sadly  behindliand  with  my  committee  work  and  my  dear 
ladies.  But  I  really  do  hope  to  look  in  at  the  Mothers'-Small- 
Clothes  next  week.  Did  you  make  cheering  progress  at 
Monday's  Committee?  Was  the  Board  hopeful  about  future 
prospects?     And  are  we  nicely  off  for  trousers?" 

The  heavenly  gentleness  of  his  smile  made  his  apologies 
irresistible.  The  richness  of  his  deep  voice  added  its  own 
indescribable  charm  to  the  interesting  business  question  which 
he  had  just  addressed  to  me.  In  truth,  we  were  almost  too 
nicely  off  for  trousers ;  we  were  quite  overwhelmed  by  them. 
I  was  just  about  to  say  so,  when  the  door  opened  again,  and 
an  element  of  worldly  disturbance  entered  the  room  in  the 
person  of  Miss  Verinder. 

She  approached  dear  Mr.  Godfrey  at  a  most  unlady-like. 
rate  of  speed,  with  her  hair  shockingly  untidy,  and  her  face, 
what  I  should  call,  unbecomingly  flushed. 

"I  am  charmed  to  see  you,  Godfrey,"  she  said,  addressing 
him,  I  grieve  to  add,  in  the  off-hand  manner  of  one  young 
man  talking  to  another.  'T  wish  you  had  brought  Mr.  Luker 
with  you.  You  and  he,  as  long  as  our  present  excitement 
lasts,  are  the  two  most  interesting  men  in  all  London.  It's 
morbid  to  say  this ;  it's  unhealthy ;  its  all  that  a  well-regulated 
mind  like  Miss  Clack's  most  instinctively  shudders  at.  Never 
mind  that.  Tell  me  the  whole  of  the  Northumberland  Street 
story  directly.  I  know  the  newspapers  have  left  some  of  it 
out." 

Even  dear  Mr.  Godfrey  partakes  of  the  fallen  nature  which 
we  all  inherit  from  Adam — it  is  a  very  small  share  of  our 
human  legacy,  but,  alas !  he  has  it.  I  confess  it  grieved  me 
to  see  him  take  Rachel's  hand  in  both  of  his  own  hands,  and 
lay  it  softly  on  the  left  side  of  his  waistcoat.  It  was  a  direct 
encouragement  to  her  reckless  way  of  talking,  and  her  in- 
solent reference  to  me. 

"Dearest  Rachel,"  he  said,  in  the  same  voice  which  had 
thrilled  me  when  he  spoke  of  our  prospects  and  our  trousers, 
"the  newspapers  have  told  you  every  thing — and  they  have 
told  it  much  better  than  I  can." 

"Godfrey  thinks  we  all  make  too  much  of  the  matter,"  my 
aunt  remarked.  "He  has  just  been  saying  that  he  doesn't  care 
to  speak  of  it." 

226 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Why?" 

She  put  the  question  with  a  sudden  flash  in  her  eyes,  and 
a  sudden  look  up  into  Mr.  Godfrey's  face.  On  his  side,  he 
looked  down  at  her  with  an  indulgence  so  injudicious  and  so 
ill-deserved  that  I  really  felt  called  on  to  interfere. 

"Rachel,  darling!"  I  remonstrated,  gently,  "true  greatness 
and  true  courage  are  ever  modest." 

"You  are  a  very  good  fellow  in  your  way,  Godfrey,"  she 
said — not  taking  the  smallest  notice,  observe,  of  me,  and  still 
speaking  to  her  cousin  as  if  she  was  one  young  man  address- 
ing another.  "But  I  am  quite  sure  you  are  not  great ;  I  don't 
believe  you  possess  any  extraordinary  courage ;  and  I  am 
firmly  persuaded — if  you  ever  had  any  modesty — that  your 
lady-worshipers  relieved  you  of  that  virtue  a  good  many 
years  since.  You  have  some  private  reason  for  not  talking 
of  your  adventure  in  Northumberland  Street ;  and  I  mean  to 
know  it." 

"My  reason  is  the  simplest  imaginable  and  the  most  easily 
acknowledged,"  he  answered,  still  bearing  with  her.  "I  am 
tired  of  the  subject." 

"You  are  tired  of  the  subject?  My  dear  Godfrey,  I  am 
going  to  make  a  remark." 

"What  is  it?" 

"You  live  a  great  deal  too  much  in  the  society  of  women. 
And  you  have  contracted  two  very  bad  habits  in  consequence. 
You  have  learned  to  talk  nonsense  seriously,  and  you  have 
got  into  a  way  of  telling  fibs  for  the  pleasure  of  telling  them. 
You  can't  go  straight  with  your  lady-worshipers.  I  mean  to 
make  you  go  straight  with  me.  Come  and  sit  down.  I  am 
brimful  of  downright  questions ;  and  I  expect  you  to  be  brim- 
ful of  downright  answers." 

She  actually  dragged  him  across  the  room  to  a  chair  by 
the  window,  where  the  light  would  fall  on  his  face.  I  deeply 
feel  being  obliged  to  report  such  language  and  to  describe 
such  conduct.  But,  hemmed  in  as  I  am,  between  Mr.  Frank- 
lin Blake's  check  on  one  side  and  my  own  sacred  regard  for 
truth  on  the  other,  what  am  I  to  do?  I  looked  at  my  aunt. 
She  sat  unmoved ;  apparently  in  no  way  disposed  to  inter- 
fere. I  had  never  noticed  this  kind  of  torpor  in  her  before. 
It  was,  perhaps,  the  reaction  after  the  trying  time  she  had 

227 


THE  MOONSTONE 

had  in  the  country.  ,  Not  a  pleasant  symptom  to  remark,  be 
it  what  it  might,  at  dear  Lady  Verinder's  age,  and  with  dear 
Lady  Verinder's  autumnal  exuberance  of  figure. 

In  the  mean  time  Rachel  had  settled  herself  at  the  window 
with  our  amiable  and  forbearing — our  too  forbearing — Mr. 
Godfrey.  She  began  the  string  of  questions  with  which  she 
had  threatened  him,  taking  no  more  notice  of  her  mother 
or  of  myself  than  if  we  had  not  been  in  the  room. 

"Have  the  police  done  any  thing,  Godfrey?" 

"Nothing  whatever." 

"It  is  certain,  I  suppose,  that  the  three  men  who  laid  the 
trap  for  you  were  the  same  three  men  who  afterward  laid 
the  trap  for  Mr.  Luker?" 

"Humanlv  speaking,  my  dear  Rachel,  there  can  be  no  doubt 
of  it." 

"And  not  a  trace  of  them  has  been  discovered?" 

"Not  a  trace." 

"It  is  thought — is  it  not? — that  these  three  men  are  the 
three  Indians  who  came  to  our  house  in  the  country." 

"Some  people  think  so." 

"Do  you  think  so?" 

"My  dear  Rachel,  they  blindfolded  me  before  I  could  see 
their  faces.  I  know  nothing  whatever  of  the  matter.  How 
can  I  offer  any  opinion  on  it?" 

Even  the  angelic  gentleness  of  Mr.  Godfrey  was,  you  see, 
beginning  to  give  way  at  last  under  the  persecution  inflicted 
on  him.  Whether  unbridled  curiosity,  or  ungovernable  dread, 
dictated  Miss  Verinder's  questions,  I  do  not  presume  to  in- 
quire. I  only  report  that,  on  Mr.  Godfrey's  attempting  to 
rise,  after  giving  her  the  answer  just  described,  she  actually 
took  him  by  the  two  shoulders  and  pushed  him  back  into  his 
chair. — Oh,  don't  say  this  was  immodest !  don't  even  hint  that 
the  recklessness  of  guilty  terror  could  alone  account  for  such 
conduct  as  I  have  described !  We  must  not  judge  others. 
My  Christian  friends,  indeed,  indeed,  indeed,  we  must  not 
judge  others ! 

She  went  on  with  her  questions,  unabashed.  Earnest  Bib- 
lical students  will  perhaps  be  reminded — as  I  was  reminded 
— of  the  blinded  children  of  the  devil,  who  went  on  with  their 
orgies,  unabashed,  in  the  time  before  the  Flood. 

228 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"I  want  to  know  something  about  Mr.  Luker,  Godfrey." 

"I  am  again  unfortunate,  Rachel.  No  man  knows  less  of 
Mr.  Luker  than  I  do." 

"You  never  saw  him  before  you  and  he  met  accidentally 
at  the  bank  ?" 

"Never." 

"You  have  seen  him  since?" 

"Yes.  We  have  been  examined  together,  as  well  as  sepa- 
rately, to  assist  the  police." 

"Mr.  Luker  was  robbed  of  a  receipt  which  he  had  got 
from  his  banker's — was  he  not  ?    What  was  the  receipt  for  ?" 

"For  a  valuable  gem  which  he  had  placed  in  the  safe- 
keeping of  the  bank." 

"That's  what  the  newspapers  say.  It  may  be  enough  for 
the  general  reader ;  but  it  is  not  enough  for  me.  The  banker's 
receipt  must  have  mentioned  what  the  gem  was?" 

"The  banker's  receipt,  Rachel — as  I  have  heard  it  described 
— mentioned  nothing  of  the  kind.  A  valuable  gem,  belong- 
ing to  Mr.  Luker ;  deposited  by  Mr.  Luker ;  sealed  with  Mr. 
Luker's  seal ;  and  only  to  be  given  up  on  Mr.  Luker's  per- 
sonal application.  That  was  the  form,  and  that  is  all  I  know 
about  it." 

She  waited  a  moment  after  he  had  said  that.  She  looked 
at  her  mother  and  sighed.  She  looked  back  again  at  Mr. 
Godfrey,  and  went  on. 

"Some  of  our  private  afifairs,  at  home,"  she  said,  "seem  to 
have  got  into  the  newspapers  ?" 

"I  grieve  to  say,  it  is  so." 

"And  some  idle  people,  perfect  strangers  to  us,  are  trying 
to  trace  a  connection  between  what  happened  at  our  house 
in  Yorkshire  and  what  has  happened  since  here  in  London?" 

"The  public  curiosity,  in  certain  quarters,  is,  I  fear,  taking 
that  turn." 

"The  people  who  say  that  the  three  unknown  men  who  ill- 
used  you  and  Mr.  Luker  are  the  three  Indians,  also  say  that 
the  valuable  gem — " 

There  she  stopped.  She  had  become  gradually,  within 
the  last  few  moments,  whiter  and  whiter  in  the  face.  The 
extraordinary  blackness  of  her  hair  made  this  paleness,  bv 
contrast,  so  ghastly  to  look  at  that  we  all  thought  she  would 

22f) 


THE  MOONSTONE 

faint  at  that  moment  when  she  checked  herself  in  the  middle 
of  her  question.  Dear  Mr.  Godfrey  made  a  second  attempt 
to  leave  his  chair.  My  aunt  entreated  her  to  say  no  more. 
I  followed  my  aunt  with  a  modest  medicinal  peace-offering 
in  the  shape  of  a  bottle  of  salts.  We  none  of  us  produced 
the  slightest  eifect  on  her.  "Godfrey,  stay  where  you  are. 
Mamma,  there  is  not  the  least  reason  to  be  alarmed  about  me. 
Clack,  you're  dying  to  hear  the  end  of  it — I  won't  faint,  ex- 
pressly to  oblige  you." 

Those  were  the  exact  words  she  used — taken  down  in  my 
diary  the  moment  I  got  home.  But  oh,  don't  let  us  judge ! 
My  Christian  friends,  don't  let  us  'jw'^g'c ' 

She  turned  once  more  to  Mr.  Godfrey.  With  an  obstinacy 
dreadful  to  see  she  went  back  again  to  the  place  where  she 
had  checked  herself,  and  completed  her  question  in  these 
words : 

"I  spoke  to  you  a  minute  since  about  what  people  were 
saying  in  certain  quarters.  Tell  me  plainly,  Godfrey,  do  they 
any  of  them  say  that  Mr.  Luker's  valuable  gem  is — the 
Moonstone  ?" 

As  the  name  of  the  Indian  Diamond  passed  her  lips  I  saw 
a  change  come  over  my  admirable  friend.  His  complexion 
deepened.  He  lost  the  genial  suavity  of  manner  which  is 
one  of  his  greatest  charms.  A  noble  indignation  inspired 
his  reply. 

"They  do  say  it,"  he  answered.  "There  are  people  who 
don't  hesitate  to  accuse  Mr.  Luker  of  telling  a  falsehood  to 
serve  some  private  interests  of  his  own.  He  has  over  and 
over  again  solemnly  declared  that,  until  this  scandal  assailed 
him,  he  had  never  even  heard  of  the  Moonstone.  And  these 
vile  people  reply,  without  a  shadow  of  proof  to  justify  them, 
'He  has  his  reasons  for  concealment ;  we  decline  to  believe 
him  on  his  oath.'     Shameful !  shameful !" 

Rachel  looked  at  him  very  strangely — I  can't  well  describe 
how — while  he  was  speaking.  When  he  had  done,  she 
said : 

"Considering  that  Mr.  Luker  is  only  a  chance  acquaintance 
of  yours,  you  take  up  his  cause,  Godfrey,  rather  warmly." 

My  gifted  friend  made  her  one  of  the  most  truly  evangel- 
ical answers  I  ever  heard  in  my  life. 

230 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"I  hope,  Rachel,  I  take  up  the  cause  of  all  oppressed  people 
rather  warmly,"  he  said. 

The  tone  in  which  those  words  were  spoken  might  have 
melted  a  stone.  But,  oh  dear,  what  is  the  hardness  of  stone? 
Nothing  compared  to  the  hardness  of  the  unregenerate  human 
heart !  She  sneered.  I  blush  to  record  it — she  sneered  at 
him  to  his  face. 

"Keep  your  beautiful  language  for  your  Ladies'  Commit- 
tees, Godfrey.  I  am  certain  that  the  scandal  which  has 
assailed  Mr.  Luker  has  not  spared  you." 

Even  my  aunt's  torpor  was  roused  by  those  words. 

"My  dear  Rachel,"  she  remonstrated,  "you  have  really  no 
right  to  say  that !" 

"I  mean  no  harm,  mamma — I  mean  good.  Have  a  mo- 
ment's patience  with  me,  and  you  will  see." 

She  looked  back  at  Mr.  Godfrey  with  what  appeared  to  be 
a  sudden  pity  for  him.  She  went  the  length — the  very  unlady- 
like length — of  taking  him  by  the  hand. 

"I  am  certain,"  she  said,  "that  I  have  found  out  the  true 
reason  of  your  unwillingness  to  speak  of  this  matter  before 
my  mother  and  before  me.  An  unlucky  accident  has  asso- 
ciated you  in  people's  minds  with  Mr.  Luker.  You  have 
told  me  what  scandal  says  of  hini.  What  does  scandal  say 
of  your 

Even  at  the  eleventh  hour,  dear  Mr.  Godfrey — always 
ready  to  return  good  for  evil — tried  to  spare  her. 

"Don't  ask  me!"  he  said.  "It's  better  forgotten,  Rachel — 
it  is  indeed." 

"I  ivill  hear  it !"  she  cried  out,  fiercely,  at  the  top  of  her 
voice. 

"Tell  her,  Godfrey !"  entreated  my  aunt.  "Nothing  can  do 
her  such  harm  as  your  silence  is  doing  now !" 

Mr.  Godfrey's  fine  eyes  filled  with  tears.  He  cast  one 
last  appealing  look  at  her — and  then  he  spoke  the  fatal 
words  : 

"If  you  will  have  it,  Rachel — scandal  says  that  the  Moon- 
stone is  in  pledge  to  ]\Ir.  Luker,  and  that  I  am  the  man  who 
has  pawned  it." 

She  started  to  her  feet  with  a  scream.  She  looked  back- 
ward and  forward  from  ATr.  Godfrey  to  my  aunt,  and  froni 

231 


THE  MOONSTONE 

my  aunt  to  Mr.  Godfrey,  in  such  a  frantic  manner  that  I 
really  thought  she  had  gone  mad. 

"Don't  speak  to  me!  Don't  touch  me!"  she  exclaimed, 
shrinking  back  from  all  of  us — I  declare  like  some  hunted 
animal! — into  a  corner  of  the  room.  "This  is  my  fault!  I 
must  set  it  right.  I  have  sacrificed  myself — I  had  a  right 
to  do  that  if  I  liked.  But  to  let  an  innocent  man  be  ruined ; 
to  keep  a  secret  which  destroys  his  character  for  life — Oh, 
good  God,  it's  too  horrible !    I  can't  bear  it !" 

My  aunt  half  rose  from  her  chair,  then  suddenly  sat  down 
again.  She  called  to  me  faintly,  and  pointed  to  a  little  phial 
in  her  work-box. 

"Quick !"  she  whispered.  "Six  drops,  in  water.  Don't  let 
Rachel  see." 

Under  other  circumstances  I  should  have  thought  this 
strange.  There  was  no  time  now  to  think — there  was  only 
time  to  give  the  medicine.  Dear  Mr.  Godfrey  unconsciously 
assisted  me  in  concealing  what  I  was  about  from  Rachel  by 
speaking  composing  words  to  her  at  the  other  end  of  the 
room. 

"Indeed — indeed  you  exaggerate,"  I  heard  him  say.  "My 
reputation  stands  too  high  to  be  destroyed  by  a  miserable 
passing  scandal  like  this.  It  will  be  all  forgotten  in  another 
week.    Let  us  never  speak  of  it  again." 

She  was  perfectly  inaccessible  even  to  such  generosity  as 
this.     She  went  on  from  bad  to  worse. 

"I  must  and  will  stop  it,"  she  said.  "Mamma !  hear  what 
I  say.  Miss  Clack !  hear  what  I  say.  I  know  the  hand  that 
took  the  Moonstone.  I  know" — she  laid  a  strong  emphasis 
on  the  words ;  she  stamped  her  foot  in  the  rage  that  possessed 
her — "/  know  that  Godfrey  Ahlezvhite  is  innocent!  Take  me 
to  the  magistrate,  Godfrey!  Take  me  to  the  magistrate,  and 
I  will  swear  it !" 

My  aunt  caught  me  by  the  hand  and  whispered,  "Stand 
between  us  for  a  minute  or  two.  Don't  let  Rachel  see  me." 
I  noticed  a  bluish  tinge  in  her  face  which  alarmed  me.  She 
saw  I  was  startled.  "The  drops  will  put  me  right  in  a  minute 
or  two,"  she  said,  and  so  closed  her  eyes  and  waited  a  little. 

While  this  was  going  on  I  heard  dear  Mr.  Godfrey  still 
gently  remonstrating. 

232 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"You  must  not  appear  publicly  in  such  a  thing  as  this," 
he  said.  "Your  reputation,  dearest  Rachel,  is  something  too 
pure  and  too  sacred  to  be  trifled  with." 

"My  reputation !"  She  burst  out  laughing.  "Why,  I  am 
accused,  Godfrey,  as  well  as  you.  The  best  detective  officer 
in  England  declares  that  I  have  stolen  my  own  Diamond. 
Ask  him  what  he  thinks,  and  he  will  tell  you  that  I  have 
pledged  the  Moonstone  to  pay  my  private  debts !"  She 
stopped — ran  across  the  room — and  fell  on  her  knees  at  her 
mother's  feet.  "Oh,  mamma  !  mamma  !  mamma  !  I  must  be 
mad — mustn't  I? — not  to  own  the  truth  nozv!"  She  was  too 
vehement  to  notice  her  mother's  condition — she  was  on  her 
feet  again  and  back  with  Mr.  Godfrey  in  an  instant.  "I  won't 
let  you — I  won't  let  any  innocent  man — be  accused  and  dis- 
graced through  my  fault.  If  you  won't  take  me  before  the 
magistrate,  draw  out  a  declaration  of  your  innocence  on 
paper,  and  I  will  sign  it.  Do  as  I  tell  you,  Godfrey,  or  I'll 
write  it  to  the  newspapers — I'll  go  out  and  cry  it  in  the 
streets !" 

We  will  not  say  this  was  the  language  of  remorse — we 
will  say  it  was  the  language  of  hysterics.  Indulgent  Mr. 
Godfrey  pacified  her  by  taking  a  sheet  of  paper  and  drawing 
out  the  declaration.  She  signed  it  in  a  feverish  hurry.  "Show 
it  everywhere — don't  think  of  nie,"  she  said,  as  she  gave  it 
to  him.  "1  am  afraid,  Godfrey,  I  have  not  done  you  justice 
hitherto  in  my  thoughts.  You  are  more  unselfish — you  are  a 
better  man  than  I  believed  you  to  be.  Come  here  when  you 
can,  and  I  will  try  and  repair  the  wrong  I  have  done  you." 

She  gave  him  her  hand.  Alas  for  our  fallen  nature !  Alas 
for  Mr.  Godfrey!  He  not  only  forgot  himself  so  far  as  to 
kiss  her  hand — he  adopted  a  gentleness  of  tone  in  answering 
her  which,  in  such  a  case,  was  little  better  than  a  compromise 
with  sin.  "I  will  come,  dearest,"  he  said,  "on  condition  that 
we  don't  speak  of  this  hateful  subject  again."  Never  had  I 
seen  and  heard  our  Christian  Hero  to  less  advantage  than  on 
this  occasion. 

Before  another  word  could  be  said  by  any  body  a  thunder- 
ing knock  at  the  street-door  startled  us  all.  I  looked  through 
the  window  and  saw  the  World,  the  Flesh,  and  the  Devil  wait- 
ing before  the  house — as  typified  in  a  carriage  and  horses, 

233 


THE  MOONSTONE 

a  powdered  footman,  and  three  of  the  most  audaciously- 
dressed  women  I  ever  beheld  in  my  life. 

Rachel  started  and  composed  herself.  She  crossed  the  room 
to  her  mother. 

"They  have  come  to  take  me  to  the  flower-show,"  she  said. 
"One  word,  mamma,  before  I  go.  I  have  not  distressed  you, 
have  I ?" 

Is  the  bluntness  of  moral  feeling  which  could  ask  such  a 
question  as  that,  after  what  had  just  happened,  to  be  pitied 
or  condemned  ?    I  like  to  lean  toward  mercy.    Let  us  pity  it. 

The  drops  had  produced  their  effect.  My  poor  aunt's  com- 
plexion was  like  itself  again.  "No,  no,  my  dear,"  she  said. 
"Go  with  our  friends  and  enjoy  yourself." 

Her  daughter  stooped  and  kissed  her.  I  had  left  the  win- 
dow, and  was  near  the  door  when  Rachel  approached  it  to 
go  out.  Another  change  had  come  over  her — she  was  in 
tears.  I  looked  with  interest  at  the  momentary  softening  of 
that  obdurate  heart.  I  felt  inclined  to  say  a  few  earnest 
words.  Alas !  my  well-meant  sympathy  only  gave  offense. 
"What  do  you  mean  by  pitying  me?"  she  asked,  in  a  bitter 
whisper,  as  she  passed  to  the  door.  "Don't  you  see  how 
happy  I  am?  I'm. going  to  the  flower-show,  Clack;  and  I've 
got  the  prettiest  bonnet  in  London."  She  completed  the  hol- 
low mockery  of  that  address  by  blowing  me  a  kiss — and  so 
left  the  room. 

I  wish  I  could  describe  in  words  the  compassion  that  I  felt 
for  this  miserable  and  misguided  girl.  But  I  am  almost  as 
poorly  provided  with  words  as  with  money.  Permit  me  to 
say — my  heart  bled  for  her. 

Returning  to  my  aunt's  chair,  I  observed  dear  Mr.  Godfrey 
searching  for  something  softly  here  and  there  in  different 
parts  of  the  room.  Before  I  could  ofifer  to  assist  him  he  had 
found  what  he  wanted.  He  came  back  to  my  aunt  and  me, 
with  his  declaration  of  innocence  in  one  hand  and  with  a  box 
of  matches  in  the  other. 

"Dear  aunt,  a  little  conspiracy !"  he  said.  "Dear  Miss 
Clack,  a  pious  fraud  which  even  your  high  moral  rectitude 
will  excuse !  Will  you  leave  Rachel  to  suppose  that  I  accept 
the  generous  self-sacrifice  which  has  signed  this  paper?  And 
will  you  kindly  bear  witness  that  I  destroy  it  in  your  presence 

234 


THE  MOONSTONE 

before  I  leave  the  house  ?"  He  kindled  a  match,  and  lighting 
the  paper  laid  it  to  burn  in  a  plate  on  the  table.  "Any  trifling 
inconvenience  that  I  may  suffer  is  as  nothing,"  he  remarked, 
"compared  with  the  importance  of  preserving  that  pure  name 
from  the  contaminating  contact  of  the  world.  There !  We 
have  reduced  it  to  a  little  harmless  heap  of  ashes,  and  our 
dear  impulsive  Rachel  will  never  know  what  we  have  done ! 
How  do  you  feel  ? — my  precious  friends,  how  do  you  feel  ? 
For  my  poor  part,  I  am  as  light-hearted  as  a  boy !" 

He  beamed  on  us  with  his  beautiful  smile ;  he  held  out  a 
hand  to  my  aunt  and  a  hand  to  me.  I  was  too  deeply  affected 
by  his  noble  conduct  to  speak.  I  closed  my  eyes ;  I  put  his 
hand,  in  a  kind  of  spiritual  self-forgetfulness,  to  my  lips.  He 
murmured  a  soft  remonstrance.  Oh,  the  ecstasy,  the  pure, 
unearthly  ecstasy  of  that  moment !  I  sat — I  hardly  know  on 
what — quite  lost  in  my  own  exalted  feelings.  When  I  opened 
my  eyes  again  it  was  like  descending  from  heaven  to  earth. 
There  was  nobody  but  my  aunt  in  the  room.     He  had  gone. 

I  SHOULD  like  to  stop  here — I  should  like  to  close  my  narra- 
tive with  the  record  of  Mr.  Godfrey's  noble  conduct.  Unhap- 
pily there  is  more,  much  more,  which  the  unrelenting  pecu- 
niary-pressure of  Mr.  Blake's  check  obliges  me  to  tell.  The 
painful  disclosures  which  were  to  reveal  themselves  in  my 
presence  during  that  Tuesday's  visit  to  Montagu  Square  were 
not  at  an  end  yet. 

Finding  myself  alone  with  Lady  Verinder,  I  turned  nat- 
urally to  the  subject  of  her  health,  touching  delicately  on  the 
strange  anxiety  which  she  had  shown  to  conceal  her  indisposi- 
tion, and  the  remedy  applied  to  it,  from  the  observation  of 
her  daughter. 

My  aunt's  reply  greatly  surprised  me. 

"Drusilla,"  she  said — if  I  have  not  already  mentioned  that 
my  Christian  name  is  Drusilla,  permit  me  to  mention  it  now 
— "you  are  touching — quite  innocently,  I  know — on  a  very 
distressing  subject." 

I  rose  immediately.  Delicacy  left  me  but  one  alternative 
— the  alternative,  after  first  making  my  apologies,  of  taking 
my  leave.  Lady  Verinder  stopped  me  and  insisted  on  my 
sitting  down  again. 

235 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"You  have  surprised  a  secret,"  she  said,  "which  I  had  con- 
fided to  my  sister,  Mrs.  Ablewhite,  and  to  my  lawyer,  Mr. 
Bruff,  and  to  no  one  else.  I  can  trust  in  their  discretion; 
and  I  am  sure,  when  I  tell  you  the  circumstances,  I  can  trust 
in  yours.  Have  you  any  pressing  engagement,  Drusilla?  or 
is  your  time  your  own  this  afternoon  ?" 

It  is  needless  to  say  that  my  time  was  entirely  at  my  aunt's 
disposal. 

"Keep  me  company,  then,"  she  said,  "for  another  hour.  I 
have  something  to  tell  you  which  I  believe  you  will  be  sorry 
to  hear.  And  I  shall  have  a  service  to  ask  of  you  afterward, 
if  you  don't  object  to  assist  me." 

It  is  again  needless  to  say  that,  so  far  from  objecting,  I 
was  all  eagerness  to  assist  her. 

"You  can  wait  here,"  she  went  on,  "till  Mr.  Bruff  comes 
at  five.  And  you  can  be  one  of  the  witnesses,  Drusilla,  when 
I  sign  my  will." 

Her  will !  I  thought  of  the  drops  which  I  had  seen  in  her 
work-box.  I  thought  of  the  bluish  tinge  which  I  had  noticed 
in  her  complexion.  A  light  which  was  not  of  this  world — 
a  light  shining  prophetically  from  an  unmade  grave — dawned 
solemnly  on  my  mind.  My  aunt's  secret  was  a  secret  no 
longer. 


CHAPTER    III. 

CONSIDERATION  for  poor  Lady  Verinder  forbade  me 
even  to  hint  that  I  had  guessed  the  melancholy  truth  be- 
fore she  opened  her  lips.  I  waited  her  pleasure  in  silence ; 
and,  having  privately  arranged  to  say  a  few  sustaining  words 
at  the  first  convenient  opportunity,  felt  prepared  for  any  duty 
that  could  claim  me,  no  matter  how  painful  it  might  be. 

"I  have  been  seriously  ill,  Drusilla,  for  some  time  past," 
my  aunt  began.  "And  strange  to  say,  without  knowing  it 
myself." 

I  thought  of  the  thousands  on  thousands  of  perishing 
human  creatures  who  were  all  at  that  moment  spiritually  ill, 
without  knowing  it  themselves.     And  I  greatly  feared  that 

236 


THE  MOONSTONE 

my  poor  aunt  might  be  one  of  the  number.  "Yes,  dear,"  I 
said,  sadly.     "Yes." 

"I  brought  Rachel  to  London,  as  you  know,  for  medical 
advice,"  she  went  on.  "I  thought  it  right  to  consult  two 
doctors." 

Two  doctors !  And,  oh  me,  in  Rachel's  state,  not  one 
clergyman  !    "Yes,  dear,"  I  said  once  more.    "Yes  ?" 

"One  of  the  two  medical  men,"  proceeded  my  aunt,  "was 
a  stranger  to  me.  The  other  had  been  an  old  friend  of  my 
husband's,  and  had  always  felt  a  sincere  interest  in  me  for 
my  husband's  sake.  After  prescribing  for  Rachel,  he  said 
he  wished  to  speak  to  me  privately  in  another  room.  I  ex- 
pected, of  course,  to  receive  some  special  directions  for  the 
management  of  my  daughter's  health.  To  my  surprise,  he 
took  me  gravely  by  the  hand,  and  said,  T  have  been  looking 
at  you,  Lady  Verinder,  with  a  professional  as  well  as  a  per- 
sonal interest.  You  are,  I  am  afraid,  far  more  urgently  in 
need  of  medical  advice  than  your  daughter.'  He  put  some 
questions  to  me  which  I  was  at  first  inclined  to  treat  lightly 
enough,  until  I  observed  that  my  answers  distressed  him.  It 
ended  in  his  making  an  appointment  to  come  and  see  me, 
accompanied  by  a  medical  friend,  on  the  next  day,  at  an  hour 
when  Rachel  would  not  be  at  home.  The  result  of  that  visit 
-^niost  kindly  and  gently  conveyed  to  me — satisfied  both  the 
physicians  that  there  had  been  precious  time  lost  which 
could  never  be  regained,  and  that  my  case  had  now  passed 
beyond  the  reach  of  cheir  art.  For  more  than  two  years  I 
have  been  suffering  under  an  insidious  form  of  heart  disease, 
which,  without  any  symptoms  to  alarm  me,  has,  by  little  and 
little,  fatally  broken  me  down.  I  may  live  for  some  months, 
or  I  may  die  before  another  day  has  passed  over  my  head — 
the  doctors  can  not,  and  dare  not,  speak  more  positively  than 
this.  It  would  be  vain  to  say,  my  dear,  that  I  have  not  had 
some  miserable  moments  since  my  real  situation  has  been 
made  known  to  me.  But  I  am  more  resigned  than  I  was, 
and  I  am  doing  my  best  to  set  my  worldly  affairs  in  order. 
My  one  great  anxiety  is  that  Rachel  should  be  kept  in  igno- 
rance of  the  truth.  If  she  knew  it,  she  would  at  once  attrib- 
ute my  broken  health  to  anxiety  about  the  Diamond,  and 
would  reproach  herself  bitterly,  poor  child,  for  what  is  in  no 

337 


THE  MOONSTONE 

sense  her  fault.  Both  the  doctors  agree  that  the  mischief 
began  two,  if  not  three  years  since.  I  am  sure  you  will  keep 
my  secret,  Drusilla — for  I  am  sure  I  see  sincere  sorrow  and 
sympathy  for  me  in  your  face." 

Sorrow  and  sympathy !  Oh,  what  Pagan  emotions  to  ex- 
pect from  a  Christian  Englishwoman  anchored  firmly  on  her 
faith ! 

Little  did  my  poor  aunt  imagine  what  a  gush  of  devout 
thankfulness  thrilled  through  me  as  she  approached  the  close 
of  her  melancholy  story.  Here  was  a  career  of  usefulness 
opened  before  me !  Here  was  a  beloved  relative  and  perish- 
ing fellow-creature,  on  the  eve  of  the  great  change,  utterly 
unprepared ;  and  led,  providentially  led,  to  reveal  her  situa- 
tion to  me !  How  can  I  describe  the  joy  with  which  I  now 
remembered  that  the  precious  clerical  friends  on  whom  I 
could  rely  were  to  be  counted,  not  by  ones  or  twos,  but  by 
tens  and  twenties !  I  took  my  aunt  in  my  arms — my  over- 
flowing tenderness  was  not  to  be  satisfied  nozv  with  any  thing 
less  than  an  embrace.  "Oh !"  I  said  to  her,  fervently,  "the 
indescribable  interest  with  which  you  inspire  me !  Oh !  the 
good  I  mean  to  do  you,  dear,  before  we  part !"  After  another 
word  or  two  of  earnest  prefatory  warning,  I  gave  her  her 
choice  of  three  precious  friends,  all  plying  the  work  of  mercy 
from  morning  to  night  in  her  own  neighborhood;  all  equally 
inexhaustible  in  exhortation ;  all  affectionately  ready  to  exer- 
cise their  gifts  at  a  word  from  me.  Alas !  the  result  was  far 
from  encouraging.  Poor  Lady  Verinder  looked  puzzled  and 
frightened,  and  met  every  thing  I  could  say  to  her  with  the 
purely  worldly  objection  that  she  was  not  strong  enough  to 
face  strangers.  I  yielded — for  the  moment  only,  of  course. 
My  large  experience,  as  Reader  and  Visitor,  under  not  less, 
first  and  last,  than  fourteen  beloved  clerical  friends,  informed 
me  that  this  was  another  case  for  preparation  by  books.  I 
possessed  a  little  library  of  works,  all  suitable  to  the  present 
emergency,  all  calculated  to  arouse,  convince,  prepare,  en- 
lighten, and  fortify  my  aunt.  "You  will  read,  dear,  won't 
you?"  I  said,  in  my  most  winning  way.  "You  will  read,  if 
I  bring  you  my  own  precious  books?  Turned  down  at  all 
the  right  places,  aunt.  And  marked  in  pencil  where  you  are 
to  stop  and  ask  yourself,  'Does  this  apply  to  me?'"     Even 

238 


THE  MOONSTONE 

that  simple  appeal — so  absolutely  heathenizing  is  the  influence 
of  the  world — appeared  to  startle  my  aunt.  She  said,  "I  will 
do  what  I  can,  Drusilla,  to  please  you,"  with  a  look  of  sur- 
prise, which  was  at  once  instructive  and  terrible  to  see.  Not 
a  moment  was  to  be  lost.  The  clock  on  the  mantel-piece 
informed  me  that  I  had  just  time  to  hurry  home,  to  pro- 
vide myself  with  a  first  series  of  selected  readings,  say 
a  dozen  only,  and  to  return  in  time  to  meet  the  lawyer, 
and  witness  Lady  Verinder's  will.  Promising  faithfully 
to  be  back  by  five  o'clock,  I  left  the  house  on  my  errand 
of  mercy. 

When  no  interests  but  my  own  are  involved,  I  am  humbly 
content  to  get  from  place  to  place  by  the  omnibus.  Permit 
me  to  give  an  idea  of  my  devotion  to  my  aunt's  interests  by 
recording  that,  on  this  occasion,  I  committed  the  prodigality 
of  taking  a  cab. 

I  drove  home,  selected  and  marked  my  first  series  of  read- 
ings, and  drove  back  to  Montagu  Square  with  a  dozen  works 
in  a  carpet-bag,  the  like  of  which,  I  firmly  believe,  are  not  to 
be  found  in  the  literature  of  any  other  country  in  Europe. 
I  paid  the  cabman  exactly  his  fare.  He  received  it  with  an 
oath ;  upon  which  I  instantly  gave  him  a  tract.  If  I  had 
presented  a  pistol  at  his  head  this  abandoned  wretch  could 
hardly  have  exhibited  greater  consternation.  He  jumped  up 
on  his  box,  and,  with  profane  exclamations  of  dismay,  drove 
ofif  furiously.  Quite  useless,  I  am  happy  to  say !  I  sowed 
the  good  seed,  in  spite  of  him,  by  throwing  a  second  tract  in 
at  the  window  of  the  cab. 

The  servant  who  answered  the  door — not  the  person  with 
the  cap-ribbons,  to  my  great  relief,  but  the  footman — in- 
formed me  that  the  doctor  had  called,  and  was  still  shut  up 
with  Lady  Verinder.  Mr.  Brufif,  the  lawyer,  had  arrived  a 
minute  since,  and  was  waiting  in  the  library.  I  was  shown 
into  the  library  to  wait  too. 

Mr.  Brufif  looked  surprised  to  see  me.  He  is  the  family 
solicitor,  and  we  had  met  more  than  once,  on  previous  occa- 
sions, under  Lady  Verinder's  roof.  A  man,  I  grieve  to  say, 
grown  old  and  grizzled  in  the  service  of  the  world.  A 
man  who,  in  his  hours  of  business,  was  the  chosen  prophet 

239 


THE  MOONSTONE 

of  Law  and  Mammon ;  and  who,  in  his  hours  of  leisure, 
was  equally  capable  of  reading  a  novel  and  of  tearing  up  a 
tract. 

"Have  you  come  to  stay  here,  Miss  Clack  ?"  he  asked,  with 
a  look  at  my  carpet-bag. 

To  reveal  the  contents  of  my  precious  bag  to  such  a  person 
as  this  would  have  been  simply  to  invite  an  outburst  of  pro- 
fanity. I  lowered  myself  to  his  own  worldly  level  and  men- 
tioned my  business  in  the  house. 

"My  aunt  has  informed  me  that  she  is  about  to  sign  her 
will,"  I  answered.  "She  has  been  so  good  as  to  ask  me  to 
be  one  of  the  witnesses." 

"Ay?  ay?  Well,  Miss  Clack,  you  will  do.  You  are  over 
twenty-one,  and  you  have  not  the  slightest  pecuniary  interest 
in  Lady  Verinder's  will." 

Not  the  slightest  pecuniary  interest  in  Lady  Verinder's 
will.  Oh,  how  thankful  I  felt  when  I  heard  that !  If  my 
aunt,  possessed  of  thousands,  had  remembered  poor  me,  to 
whom  five  pounds  is  an  object — if  my  name  had  appeared 
in  the  will,  with  a  little  comforting  legacy  attached  to  it — 
my  enemies  might  have  doubted  the  motive  which  had  loaded 
me  with  the  choicest  treasures  of  my  library,  and  had  drawn 
upon  my  failing  resources  for  the  prodigal  expenses  of  a 
cab.  Not  the  crudest  scoffer  of  them  all  could  doubt  now. 
Much  better  as  it  was !  Oh,  surely,  surely,  much  better  as 
it  was ! 

I  was  aroused  from  these  consoling  reflections  by  the  voice 
of  Mr.  Bruff.  My  meditative  silence  appeared  to  weigh  upon 
the  spirits  of  this  worldling,  and  to  force  him,  as  it  were, 
into  talking  to  me  against  his  own  will. 

"Well,  Miss  Clack,  what's  the  last  news  in  the  charitable 
circles?  How  is  your  friend,  Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite,  after 
the  mauling  he  got  from  the  rogues  in  Northumberland 
Street  ?  Egad !  they're  telling  a  pretty  story  about  that  chari- 
table gentleman  at  my  club !" 

I  had  passed  over  the  manner  in  which  this  person  had  re- 
marked that  I  was  more  than  twenty-one,  and  that  I  had  no 
pecuniary  interest  in  my  aunt's  will.  But  the  tone  in  which 
he  alluded  to  dear  Mr.  Godfrey  was  too  much  for  my  for- 
bearance.   Feeling  bound,  after  what  had  passed  in  my  pres- 

240 


THE  MOONSTONE 

ence  that  afternoon,  to  assert  the  innocence  of  my  admirable 
friend,  whenever  I  found  it  called  in  question — I  own  to  hav- 
ing also  felt  bound  to  include  in  the  accomplishment  of  this 
righteous  purpose  a  stinging  castigation  in  the  case  of  Mr. 
Bruff. 

"I  live  very  much  out  of  the  world,"  I  said;  "and  I  don't 
possess  the  advantage,  sir,  of  belonging  to  a  club.  But  I  hap- 
pen to  know  the  story  to  which  you  allude ;  and  I  also  know 
that  a  viler  falsehood  than  that  story  never  was  told." 

"Yes,  yes.  Miss  Clack — you  believe  in  your  friend.  Nat- 
ural enough.  Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite  won't  find  the  world 
in  general  quite  so  easy  to  convince  as  a  committee  of  chari- 
table ladies.  Appearances  are  dead  against  him.  He  was 
in  the  house  when  the  Diamond  was  lost.  And  he  was  the 
first  person  in  the  house  to  go  to  London  afterward.  Those 
are  ugly  circumstances,  ma'am,  viewed  by  the  light  of  later 
events." 

I  ought,  I  know,  to  have  set  him  right  before  he  went  any 
further.  I  ought  to  have  told  him  that  he  was  speaking  in 
ignorance  of  a  testimony  to  Mr.  Godfrey's  innocence,  offered 
by  the  only  persjon  who  was  undeniably  competent  to  speak 
from  a  positive  knowledge  of  the  subject.  Alas !  the  tempta- 
tion to  lead  the  lawyer  artfully  on  to  his  own  discomfiture 
was  too  much  for  me.  I  asked  what  he  meant  by  "later 
events" — with  an  appearance  of  the  utmost  innocence. 

"By  later  events.  Miss  Clack,  I  mean  events  in  which  the 
Indians  are  concerned,"  proceeded  Mr.  Brufif,  getting  more 
and  more  superior  to  poor  me  the  longer  he  went  on.  "What 
do  the  Indians  do  the  moment  they  are  let  out  of  the  prison 
at  Frizinghall  ?  They  go  straight  to  London  and  fix  on  Mr. 
Luker.  What  does  Mr.  Luker  say  when  he  first  applies  to 
the  magistrate  for  protection  ?  He  owns  to  suspecting  a  for- 
eign workman  in  his  establishment  of  collusion  with  the 
Indians.  Can  there  be  plainer  moral  evidence,  so  far,  that  the 
rogues  had  found  an  accomplice  among  the  persons  in  Mr. 
Luker's  employment,  and  that  they  knew  the  Moonstone  to 
be  in  Mr.  Luker's  house?  Very  well.  What  follows?  Mr. 
Luker  feels  alarmed,  and  with  good  reason,  for  the  safety 
of  the  jewel  which  he  has  got  in  pledge.  He  lodges  it  pri- 
vately, under  a  general  description,  in  his  bankers'  strong- 
16  241 


THE  MOONSTONE 

room.  Wonderfully  clever  of  him ;  but  the  Indians  are  just 
as  clever  on  their  side.  They  have  their  suspicions  that  the 
Diamond  is  being  shifted  from  one  place  to  another ;  and  they 
hit  on  a  singularly  bold  and  complete  way  of  clearing  those 
suspicions  up.  Whom  do  they  seize  and  search?  Not  Mr. 
Luker  only — which  would  be  intelligible  enough — but  Mr. 
Godfrey  Ablewhite  as  well.  Why?  Mr.  Ablewhite's  expla- 
nation is,  that  they  acted  on  blind  suspicion,  after  seeing  him 
accidentally  speaking  to  Mr.  Luker.  Absurd  !  Half  a  dozen 
other  people  spoke  to  Mr.  Luker  that  morning.  Why  were 
they  not  followed  home  too,  and  decoyed  into  the  trap  ?  No ! 
no !  The  plain  inference  is,  that  Mr.  Ablewhite  had  his  pri- 
vate interest  in  the  Moonstone  as  well  as  Mr.  Luker,  and 
that  the  Indians  were  so  uncertain  as  to  which  of  the  two 
had  the  disposal  of  the  jewel  that  there  was  no  alternative 
but  to  search  them  both.  Public  opinion  says  that.  Miss 
Clack.  And  public  opinion,  on  this  occasion,  is  not  easily 
refuted." 

He  said  those  last  words  looking  so  wonderfully  wise  in 
his  own  worldly  conceit  that  I  really,  to  my  shame  be  it 
spoken,  could  not  resist  leading  him  on  a  little  further  still 
before  I  overwhelmed  him  with  the  truth. 

'T  don't  presume  to  argue  with  a  clever  lawyer  like  you," 
I  said.  "But  is  it  quite  fair,  sir,  to  Mr.  Ablewhite  to  pass 
over  the  opinion  of  the  famous  London  police  officer  who 
investigated  this  case?  Not  the  shadow  of  a  suspicion  rested 
on  any  body  but  Miss  Verinder,  in  the  mind  of  Sergeant 
Cuff."' 

"Do  you  mean  to  tell  me.  Miss  Clack,  that  you  agree  with 
the  Sergeant?" 

"I  judge  nobody,  sir,  and  I  offer  no  opinion." 

"And  I  commit  both  those  enormities,  ma'am.  I  judge 
the  Sergeant  to  have  been  utterly  wrong;  and  I  offer  the 
opinion  that,  if  he  had  known  Rachel's  character  as  I  know 
it,  he  would  have  suspected  every  body  in  the  house  before 
he  suspected  her.  I  admit  that  she  has  her  faults — she  is 
secret,  and  self-willed;  odd,  and  wild,  and  unlike  other  girls 
of  her  age.  But  true  as  steel,  and  high-minded  and  generous 
to  a  fault.  If  the  plainest  evidence  in  the  world  pointed  one 
way,  and  if  nothing  but  Rachel's  word  of  honor  pointed  the 

242 


THE  MOONSTONE 

other,  I  would  take  her  word  before  the  evidence,  lawyer  as 
I  am!     Strong  language,  Miss  Clack;  but  I  mean  it." 

"Would  you  object  to  illustrate  your  meaning,  Mr.  Bruff, 
so  that  I  may  be  sure  I  understand  it?  Suppose  you  found 
Miss  Verinder  quite  unaccountably  interested  in  what  has 
happened  to  Mr.  Ablewhite  and  Mr.  Luker?  Suppose  she 
asked  the  strangest  questions  about  this  dreadful  scandal, 
and  displayed  the  most  ungovernable  agitation  when  she 
found  out  the  turn  it  was  taking?" 

"Suppose  any  thing  you  please,   Miss   Clack,  it  wouldn't 
shake  my  belief  in  Rachel  Verinder  by  a  hair's-breadth." 
"She  is  so  absolutely  to  be  relied  on  as  that?" 
"So  absolutely  to  be  relied  on  as  that." 
"Then  permit  me  to  inform  you,  Mr.  Bruff,  that  Mr.  God- 
frey Ablewhite  was  in  this  house  not  two  hours  since,  and 
that  his  entire  innocence  of  all  concern  in  the  disappearance 
of  the  Moonstone  was  proclaimed  by  Miss  Verinder  herself, 
in  the  strongest  language  I  ever  heard  used  by  a  young  lady 
in  my  life." 

I  enjoyed  the  triumph — the  unholy  triumph,  I  fear,  I  must 
admit — of  seeing  Mr.  Bruff  utterly  confounded  and  over- 
thrown by  a  few  plain  words  from  me.  He  started  to  his 
feet  and  stared  at  me  in  silence.  I  kept  my  seat,  undisturbed, 
and  related  the  whole  scene  exactly  as  it  had  occurred.  "And 
what  do  you  say  about  Mr.  Ablewhite,  nozv?"  I  asked,  with 
the  utmost  possible  gentleness,  as  soon  as  I  had  done. 

"If  Rachel  has  testified  to  his  innocence,  Miss  Clack,  I 
don't  scruple  to  say  that  I  believe  in  his  innocence  as  firmly 
as  you  do.  I  have  been  misled  by  appearances,  like  the  rest 
of  the  world ;  and  I  will  make  the  best  atonement  I  can,  by 
publicly  contradicting  the  scandal  which  has  assailed  your 
friend  wherever  I  meet  with  it.  In  the  mean  time,  allow  me 
to  congratulate  you  on  the  masterly  manner  in  which  you 
have  opened  the  full  fire  of  your  batteries  on  me  at  the 
moment  when  I  least  expected  it.  You  would  have  done 
great  things  in  my  profession,  ma'am,  if  you  had  happened  to 
be  a  man." 

With  those  words  he  turned  away  from  me,  and  began 
walking  irritably  up  and  down  the  room. 

I  could  see  plainly  that  the  new  light  I  had  thrown  on  the 

243 


THE  MOONSTONE 

subject  had  greatly  surprised  and  disturbed  him.  Certain 
expressions  dropped  from  his  Hps  as  he  became  more  and 
more  absorbed  in  his  own  thoughts,  which  suggested  to  my 
mind  the  abominable  view  that  he  had  hitherto  taken  of  the 
mystery  of  the  lost  Moonstone.  He  had  not  scrupled  to  sus- 
pect dear  Mr.  Godfrey  of  the  infamy  of  taking  the  Diamond, 
and  to  attribute  Rachel's  conduct  to  a  generous  resolution  to 
conceal  the  crime.  On  Miss  Verinder's  own  authority — a 
perfectly  unassailable  authority,  as  you  are  aware,  in  the 
estimation  of  Mr.  Bruff — that  explanation  of  the  circum- 
stances was  now  shown  to  be  utterly  wrong.  The  perplexity 
into  which  I  had  plunged  this  high  legal  authority  was  so 
overwhelming  that  he  was  quite  unable  to  conceal  it  from 
notice.  "What  a  case !"  I  heard  him  say  to  himself,  stopping 
at  the  window  in  his  walk,  and  drumming  on  the  glass  with 
his  fingers.  "It  not  only  defies  explanation,  it's  even  beyond 
conjecture!" 

There  was  nothing  in  those  words  which  made  any  reply 
at  all  needful  on  my  part — and  yet  I  answered  them !  It 
seems  hardly  credible  that  I  should  not  have  been  able  to 
let  Mr.  Bruff  alone,  even  now.  It  seems  almost  beyond  mere 
mortal  perversity  that  I  should  have  discovered,  in  what  he 
had  just  said,  a  new  opportunity  of  making  myself  personally 
disagreeable  to  him.  But — ah,  my  friends !  nothing  is  be- 
yond mortal  perversity ;  and  any  thing  is  credible  when  our 
fallen  natures  get  the  better  of  us ! 

"Pardon  me  for  intruding  on  your  reflections,"  I  said  to 
the  unsuspecting  Mr.  Bruff.  "But  surely  there  is  a  conjecture 
to  make  which  has  not  occurred  to  us  yet?" 

"Maybe,  Miss  Clack.     I  own  I  don't  know  what  it  is." 

"Before  I  was  so  fortunate,  sir,  as  to  convince  you  of  Mr. 
Ablewhite's  innocence,  you  mentioned  it  as  one  of  the  rea- 
sons for  suspecting  him  that  he  was  in  the  house  at  the  time 
when  the  Diamond  was  lost.  Permit  me  to  remind  you  that 
Mr.  Franklin  Blake  was  also  in  the  house  at  the  time  when 
the  Diamond  was  lost." 

The  old  worldling  left  the  window,  took  a  chair  exactly 
opposite  to  mine,  and  looked  at  me  steadily,  with  a  hard 
and  vicious-  smile. 

"You  are  not  so  good  a  lawyer.  Miss  Clack,"  he  remarked, 

244 


THE  MOONSTONE 

in  a  meditative  manner,  "as  I  supposed.  You  don't  know 
how  to  let  well  alone." 

"I  am  afraid  I  fail  to  follow  you,  Mr.  Brufif,"  I  said,  mod- 
estly. 

"It  won't  do.  Miss  Clack — it  really  won't  do  a  second 
time.  Franklin  Blake  is  a  prime  favorite  of  mine,  as  you 
are  well  aware.  But  that  doesn't  matter.  I'll  adopt  your 
view,  on  this  occasion,  before  you  have  time  to  turn  round 
on  me.  You're  quite  right,  ma'am.  I  have  suspected  Mr. 
Ablewhite,  on  grounds  which  abstractedly  justify  suspecting 
Mr.  Blake  too.  Very  good — let's  suspect  him  together.  It's 
quite  in  his  character,  we  will  say,  to  be  capable  of  stealing 
the  Moonstone.  The  only  question  is,  wbdWier  it  was  his  in- 
terest to  do  it." 

"Mr.  Franklin  Blake's  debts,"  I  remarked,  "are  matters 
of  family  notoriety." 

"And  Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite's  debts  have  not  arrived  at 
that  stage  of  development  yet.  Quite  true.  But  there  hap- 
pen to  be  two  difficulties  in  the  way  of  your  theory.  Miss 
Clack.  I  manage  Franklin  Blake's  affairs,  and  I  beg  to 
inform  you  that  the  vast  majority  of  his  creditors,  knowing 
his  father  to  be  a  rich  man,  are  quite  content  to  charge  in- 
terest on  their  debts,  and  to  wait  for  their  money.  There  is 
the  first  difficulty — which  is  tough  enough.  You  will  find 
the  second  tougher  still.  I  have  it  on  the  authority  of  Lady 
Verinder  herself,  that  her  daughter  was  ready  to  marry 
Franklin  Blake,  before  that  infernal  Indian  Diamond  dis- 
appeared from  the  house.  She  had  drawn  him  on  and  put 
him  off  again,  with  the  coquetry  of  a  young  girl.  But  she  had 
confessed  to  her  mother  that  she  loved  cousin  Franklin,  and 
her  mother  had  trusted  cousin  Franklin  with  the  secret.  So 
there  he  was,  Miss  Clack,  with  his  creditors  content  to 
wait,  and  with  the  certain  prospect  before  him  of  marry- 
ing an  heiress.  By  all  means  consider  him  a  scoundrel ; 
but  tell  me,  if  you  please,  why  he  should  steal  the  Aloon- 
stone  ?" 

"The  human  heart  is  unsearchable,"  I  said,  gently.  "Who 
is  to  fathom  it?" 

"In  other  words,  ma'am — though  he  hadn't  the  shadow 
of  a  reason  for  taking  the  Diamond — he  might  have  taken  it, 

245 


THE  MOONSTONE 

nevertheless,  through  natural  depravity.  Very  well.  Say  he 
did.     Why  the  devil—?" 

"I  beg  your  pardon,  Mr.  Bruff.  If  I  hear  the  devil  re- 
ferred to  in  that  manner,  I  must  leave  the  room." 

"I  beg  your  pardon,  Miss  Clack — I'll  be  more  careful  in 
my  choice  of  language  for  the  future.  All  I  meant  to  ask 
was  this.  Why — even  supposing  he  did  take  the  Diamond 
— should  Franklin  Blake  make  himself  the  most  prominent 
person  in  the  house,  in  trying  to  recover  it?  You  may  tell 
me  he  cunningly  did  that  to  divert  suspicion  from  himself. 
I  answer  that  he  had  no  need  to  divert  suspicion — because 
nobody  suspected  him.  He  first  steals  the  Moonstone,  with- 
out the  slightest  reason,  through  natural  depravity ;  and  he 
then  acts  a  part,  in  relation  to  the  loss  of  the  jewel,  which 
there  is  not  the  slightest  necessity  to  act,  and  which  leads  to 
his  mortally  offending  the  young  lady  who  would  otherwise 
have  married  him.  That  is  the  monstrous  proposition  which 
you  are  driven  to  assert,  if  you  attempt  to  associate  the  dis- 
appearance of  the  Moonstone  with  Franklin  Blake.  No,  no, 
Miss  Clack !  After  what  has  passed  here  to-day,  between  us 
two,  the  dead-lock  in  this  case  is  complete.  Rachel's  own 
innocence  is,  as  her  mother  knows,  and  as  I  know,  beyond  a 
doubt.  Mr.  Ablewhite's  innocence  is  equally  certain — or 
Rachel  would  never  have  testified  to  it.  And  Franklin 
Blake's  innocence,  as  you  have  just  seen,  unanswerably  as- 
serts itself.  On  the  one  hand,  we  are  morally  certain  of  all 
these  things.  And,  on  the  other  hand,  we  are  equally  sure 
that  somebody  has  brought  the  Moonstone  to  London,  and 
that  Mr.  Luker,  or  his  banker,  is  in  private  possession  of  it 
at  this  moment.  What  is  the  use  of  my  experience,  what  is 
the  use  of  any  person's  experience,  in  such  a  case  as  that? 
It  baffles  me ;  it  baffles  you  ;  it  baffles  every  body." 

No — not  every  body.  It  had  not  baffled  Sergeant  Cuff. 
I  was  about  to  mention  this  with  all  possible  mildness,  and 
with  every  necessary  protest  against  being  supposed  to  cast 
a  slur  upon  Rachel — when  the  servant  came  in  to  say  that 
the  doctor  had  gone,  and  that  my  aunt  was  waiting  to  re- 
ceive us. 

This  stopped  the  discussion.  Mr.  Bruff  collected  his 
papers,  looking  a  little  exhausted  by  the  demands  which  our 

246 


THE  MOONSTONE 

conversation  had  made  on  him.  I  took  up  my  bagful  of 
precious  pubHcations,  feehng  as  if  I  could  have  gone  on  talk- 
ing for  hours.  We  proceeded  in  silence  to  Lady  Verinder's 
room. 

Permit  me  to  add  here,  before  my  narrative  advances  to 
other  events,  that  I  have  not  described  what  passed  between 
the  lawyer  and  me  without  having  a  definite  object  in  view. 
I  am  ordered  to  include  in  my  contribution  to  the  shocking 
story  of  the  Moonstone  a  plain  disclosure  not  only  of  the 
turn  which  suspicion  took,  but  even  of  the  names  of  the  per- 
sons on  whom  suspicion  rested  at  the  time  when  the  Indian 
Diamond  was  known  to  be  in  London.  A  report  of  my  con- 
versation in  the  library  with  Mr.  Brufif  appeared  to  me  to  be 
exactly  what  was  wanted  to  answer  this  purpose — while,  at 
the  same  time,  it  possessed  the  great  moral  advantage  of 
rendering  a  sacrifice  of  sinful  self-esteem  essentially  necessary 
on  my  part.  I  have  been  obliged  to  acknowledge  that  my 
fallen  nature  got  the  better  of  me.  In  making  that  humil- 
iating confession  /  get  the  better  of  my  fallen  nature.  The 
moral  balance  is  restored ;  the  spiritual  atmosphere  feels  clear 
once  more.    Dear  friends,  we  may  go  on  again. 


CHAPTER   IV. 

THE  signing  of  the  will  was  a  much  shorter  matter  than 
I  had  anticipated.  It  was  hurried  over,  to  my  thinking, 
in  indecent  haste.  Samuel,  the  footman,  was  sent  for  to  act 
as  second  witness — and  the  pen  was  put  at  once  into  my 
aunt's  hand.  I  felt  strongly  urged  to  say  a  few  appropriate 
words  on  this  solemn  occasion.  But  Mr.  Bruff's  manner 
convinced  me  that  it  was  wisest  to  check  the  impulse  while  he 
was  in  the  room.  In  less  than  two  minutes  it  was  all  over — 
and  Samuel,  unbenefited  by  what  I  might  have  said,  had 
gone  down  stairs  again. 

Mr.  Bruflf  folded  up  the  will,  and  then  looked  my  way; 
apparently  wondering  whether  I  did,  or  did  not,  mean  to 
leave  him  alone  with  my  aunt.  I  had  my  mission  of  mercy 
to  fulfill,  and  my  bag  of  precious  publications  ready  on  my 

247 


THE  MOONSTONE 

lap.  He  might  as  well  have  expected  to  move  St.  Paul's 
Cathedral  by  looking  at  it  as  to  move  me.  There  was  one  merit 
about  him,  due  no  doubt  to  his  worldly  training,  which  I  have 
no  wish  to  deny.  He  was  quick  at  seeing  things.  I  appeared 
to  produce  almost  the  same  impression  on  him  which  I  had 
produced  on  the  cabman.  He  too  uttered  a  profane  expres- 
sion, and  withdrew  in  a  violent  hurry,  and  left  me  mistress 
of  the  field. 

As  soon  as  we  were  alone  my  aunt  reclined  on  the  sofa, 
and  then  alluded,  with  some  appearance  of  confusion,  to  the 
subject  of  her  will. 

'T  hope  you  won't  think  yourself  neglected,  Drusilla,"  she 
said.  "I  mean  to  give  you  your  little  legacy,  my  dear,  with 
my  own  hand." 

Here  was  a  golden  opportunity !  I  seized  it  on  the  spot. 
In  other  words,  I  instantly  opened  my  bag  and  took  out  the 
top  publication.  It  proved  to  be  an  early  edition — only  the 
twenty-fifth — of  the  famous  anonymous  work,  believed  to  be 
by  precious  Miss  Bellows,  entitled  "The  Serpent  at  Home." 
The  design  of  the  book — with  which  the  worldly  reader  may 
not  be  acquainted — is  to  show  how  the  Evil  One  lies  in  wait 
for  us  in  all  the  most  apparently  innocent  actions  of  our  daily 
lives.  The  chapters  best  adapted  to  female  perusal  are,  "Satan 
in  the  Hair-Brush" ;  "Satan  behind  the  Looking-Glass" ; 
"Satan  under  the  Tea-Table" ;  "Satan  out  of  the  Window" 
— and  many  others. 

"Give  your  attention,  dear  aunt,  to  this  precious  book — 
and  you  will  give  me  all  I  ask."  With  those  words,  I  handed 
it  to  her  open,  at  a  marked  passage — one  continuous  burst 
of  burning  eloquence !  Subject :  Satan  among  the  Sofa- 
Cushions, 

Poor  Lady  Verinder,  reclining  thoughtlessly  on  her  own 
sofa-cushions,  glanced  at  the  book,  and  handed  it  back  to 
me  looking  more  confused  than  ever. 

"I'm  afraid,  Drusilla,"  she  said,  "I  must  wait  till  I  am  a 
little  better,  before  I  can  read  that.     The  doctor — " 

The  moment  she  mentioned  the  doctor's  name  I  knew  what 
was  coming.  Over  and  over  again,  in  my  past  experience 
among  my  perishing  fellow-creatures,  the  members  of  the 
notoriously  infidel  profession  of  Medicine  had  stepped  be- 

248 


THE  MOONSTONE 

tween  me  and  my  mission  of  mercy — on  the  miserable  pre- 
tense that  the  patient  wanted  quiet,  and  that  the  disturbing 
influence  of  all  others  which  they  most  dreaded,  was  the  in- 
fluence of  Miss  Clack  and  her  Books.  Precisely  the  same 
blinded  materialism,  working  treacherously  behind  my  back, 
now  sought  to  rob  me  of  the  only  right  of  property  that  my 
poverty  could  claim — my  right  of  spiritual  property  in  my 
perishing  aunt. 

"The  doctor  tells  me,"  my  poor  misguided  relative  went 
on,  "that  I  am  not  so  well  to-day.  He  forbids  me  to  see 
any  strangers ;  and  he  orders  me,  if  I  read  at  all,  only  to 
read  the  lightest  and  the  most  amusing  books.  'Do  nothing. 
Lady  Verinder,  to  weary  your  head,  or  to  quicken  your  pulse' 
— those  were  his  last  words,  Drusilla,  when  he  left  me  to- 
day." 

There  was  no  help  for  it  but  to  yield  again — for  the  mo- 
ment only,  as  before.  Any  open  assertion  of  the  infinitely 
superior  importance  of  such  a  ministry  as  mine,  compared 
with  the  ministry  of  the  medical  man,  would  only  have  pro- 
voked the  doctor  to  practice  on  the  human  weakness  of  his 
patient,  and  to  threaten  to  throw  up  the  case.  Happily,  there 
are  more  ways  than  one  of  sowing  the  good  seed,  and  few 
persons  are  better  versed  in  those  ways  than  myself. 

"You  might  feel  stronger,  dear,  in  an  hour  or  two,"  I  said. 
"Or  you  might  wake  to-morrow  morning  with  a  sense  of 
something  wanting  and  even  this  unpretending  volume  might 
be  able  to  supply  it.  You  will  let  me  leave  the  book,  aunt  ? 
The  doctor  can  hardly  object  to  that!" 

I  slipped  it  under  the  sofa-cushions,  half  in,  half  out,  close 
by  her  handkerchief  and  smelling-bottle.  Every  time  her 
hand  searched  for  either  of  these  it  would  touch  the  book ; 
and,  sooner  or  later — who  knows? — the  book  might  touch 
her.  After  making  this  arrangement,  I  thought  it  wise  to 
withdraw.  "Let  me  leave  you  to  repose,  dear  aunt ;  I  will 
call  again  to-morrow."  I  looked  accidentally  toward  the 
window  as  I  said  that.  It  was  full  of  flowers,  in  boxes  and 
pots.  Lady  Verinder  was  extravagantly  fond  of  these  per- 
ishable treasures,  and  had  a  habit  of  rising  every  now  and 
then,  and  going  to  look  at  them  and  smell  them.  A  new 
idea  flashed  across  my  mind.     "Oh!  may  I  take  a  flower?" 

249 


THE  MOONSTONE 

I  said — and  got  to  the  window,  unsuspected,  in  that  way. 
Instead  of  taking  away  a  flower  I  added  one,  in  the  shape 
of  another  book  from  my  bag,  which  I  left  to  surprise  my 
aunt,  among  the  geraniums  and  roses.  The  happy  thought 
followed,  "Why  not  do  the  same  for  her,  poor  dear,  in  every 
other  room  that  she  enters?"  I  immediately  said  good-bye; 
and,  crossing  the  hall,  slipped  into  the  library.  Samuel,  com- 
ing up  to  let  me  out,  and  supposing  I  had  gone,  went  down 
stairs  again.  On  the  library  table  I  noticed  two  of  the 
"amusing  books"  which  the  infidel  doctor  had  recommended. 
I  instantly  covered  them  from  sight  with  two  of  my  own 
precious  publications.  In  the  breakfast-room  I  found  my 
aunt's  favorite  canary  singing  in  his  cage.  She  was  always 
in  the  habit  of  feeding  the  bird  herself.  Some  groundsel  was 
strewed  on  a  table  which  stood  immediately  under  the  cage. 
I  put  a  book  among  the  groundsel.  In  the  drawing-room  I 
found  more  cheering  opportunities  of  emptying  my  bag.  My 
aunt's  favorite  musical  pieces  were  on  the  piano.  I  slipped 
in  two  more  books  among  the  music.  I  disposed  of  another 
in  the  back  drawing-room,  under  some  unfinished  embroid- 
ery, which  I  knew  to  be  of  Lady  Verinder's  working.  A  third 
little  room  opened  out  of  the  back  drawing-room,  from  which 
it  was  shut  oflf  by  a  curtain  instead  of  a  door.  My  aunt's 
plain  old-fashioned  fan  was  on  the  chimney-piece.  I  opened 
my  ninth  book  at  a  very  special  passage,  and  put  the  fan  in 
as  a  marker,  to  keep  the  place.  The  question  then  came, 
whether  I  should  go  higher  still,  and  try  the  bedroom  floor — 
at  the  risk,  undoubtedly,  of  being  insulted,  if  the  person  with 
the  cap-ribbons  happened  to  be  in  the  upper  regions  of  the 
house,  and  to  find  me  out.  But  oh,  what  of  that?  It  is  a 
poor  Christian  that  is  afraid  of  being  insulted.  I  went  up 
stairs,  prepared  to  bear  any  thing.  All  was  silent  and  solitary 
— it  was  the  servants'  tea-time,  I  suppose.  IMy  aunt's  room 
was  in  front.  The  miniature  of  my  late  dear  uncle.  Sir  John, 
hung  on  the  wall  opposite  the  bed.  It  seemed  to  smile  at 
me ;  it  seemed  to  say,  "Drusilla !  deposit  a  book."  There  were 
tables  on  either  side  of  my  aunt's  bed.  She  was  a  bad  sleeper, 
and  wanted,  or  thought  she  wanted,  many  things  at  night. 
I  put  a  book  near  the  matches  on  one  side,  and  a  book  under 
the  box  of  chocolate  drops  on  the  other.    Whether  she  wanted 

250 


THE  MOONSTONE 

a  light,  or  whether  she  wanted  a  drop,  there  was  a  precious 
publication  to  meet  her  eye,  or  to  meet  her  hand,  and  to  say 
with  silent  eloquence,  in  either  case,  "Come,  try  me  !  try  me !" 
But  one  book  was  now  left  at  the  bottom  of  my  bag,  and  but 
one  apartment  was  still  unexplored — the  bath-room,  which 
opened  out  of  the  bedroom.  I  peeped  in ;  and  the  holy  inner 
voice  that  never  deceives  whispered  to  me,  "You  have  met 
her,  Drusilla,  everywhere  else ;  meet  her  at  the  bath,  and  the 
work  is  done."  I  observed  a  dressing-gown  thrown  across  a 
chair.  It  had  a  pocket  in  it,  and  in  that  pocket  I  put  my  last 
book.  Can  words  express  my  requisite  sense  of  duty  done, 
when  I  had  slipped  out  of  the  house,  unsuspected  by  any  of 
them,  and  when  I  found  myself  in  the  street  with  my  empty 
bag  under  my  arm?  Oh,  my  worldly  friends,  pursuing  the 
phantom,  Pleasure,  through  the  guilty  mazes  of  Dissipation, 
how  easy  it  is  to  be  happy,  if  you  will  only  be  good ! 

When  I  folded  up  my  things  that  night — when  I  reflected 
on  the  true  riches  which  I  had  scattered  with  such  a  lavish 
hand,  from  top  to  bottom  of  the  house  of  my  wealthy  aunt — 
I  declare  I  felt  as  free  from  all  anxiety  as  if  I  had  been  a 
child  again.  I  was  so  light-hearted  that  I  sang  a  verse  of 
the  Evening  Hymn.  I  was  so  light-hearted  that  I  fell  asleep 
before  I  could  sing  another.  Quite  like  a  child  again !  quite 
like  a  child  again ! 

So  I  passed  that  blissful  night.  On  rising  the  next  morn- 
ing how  young  I  felt !  I  might  add,  how  young  I  looked,  if 
I  were  capable  of  dwelling  on  the  concerns  of  my  own  per- 
ishable body.     But  I  am  not  capable — and  I  add  nothing. 

Toward  luncheon-time — not  for  the  sake  of  the  creature- 
comforts,  but  for  the  certainty  of  finding  dear  aunt — I  put 
on  my  bonnet  to  go  to  Montagu  Square.  Just  as  I  was 
ready  the  maid  at  the  lodgings  in  which  I  then  lived  put  her 
head  in  at  the  door,  and  said,  "Lady  Verinder's  servant,  to 
see  Miss  Clack." 

I  occupied  the  parlor  floor  at  that  period  of  my  residence 
in  London.  The  front  parlor  was  my  sitting-room.  Very 
small,  very  low  in  the  ceiling,  very  poorly  furnished — but 
oh,  so  neat !  I  looked  into  the  passage  to  see  which  of  Lady 
Verinder's  servants  had  asked  for  me.  It  was  the  young 
footman,  Samuel — a  civil,  fresh-colored  person,  with  a  teach- 

251 


THE  MOONSTONE 

able  look  and  a  very  obliging  manner.  I  had  always  felt  a 
spiritual  interest  in  Samuel,  and  a  wish  to  try  him  with  a  few 
serious  words.  On  this  occasion  I  invited  him  into  my  sitting- 
room. 

He  came  in,  with  a  large  parcel  under  his  arm.  When  he 
put  the  parcel  down  it  appeared  to  frighten  him.  "My  lady's 
love,  miss ;  and  I  was  to  say  that  you  would  find  a  letter 
inside."  Having  given  that  message,  the  fresh-colored  young 
footman  surprised  me  by  looking  as  if  he  would  have  liked 
to  run  away. 

I  detained  him  to  make  a  few  kind  inquiries.  Could  I  see 
my  aunt,  if  I  called  in  Montagu  Square  ?  No :  she  had  gone 
out  for  a  drive.  Miss  Rachel  had  gone  with  her,  and  Mr. 
Ablewhite  had  taken  a  seat  in  the  carriage  too.  Knowing 
how  sadly  dear  Mr.  Godfrey's  charitable  work  was  in  arrear, 
I  thought  it  odd  that  he  should  be  going  out  driving,  like 
an  idle  man.  I  stopped  Samuel  at  the  door,  and  made  a  few 
more  kind  inquiries.  Miss  Rachel  was  going  to  a  ball  that 
night,  and  Mr.  Ablewhite  had  arranged  to  come  to  coffee 
and  go  with  her.  There  was  a  morning  concert  advertised 
for  to-morrow,  and  Samuel  was  ordered  to  take  places  for  a 
large  party,  including  a  place  for  Mr.  Ablewhite.  "All  the 
tickets  may  be  gone,  miss,"  said  this  innocent  youth,  "if  I 
don't  run  and  get  them  at  once !"  He  ran  as  he  said  the 
words  and  I  found  myself  alone  again,  with  some  anxious 
thoughts  to  occupy  me. 

We  had  a  special  meeting  of  the  Mothers'-Small-Clothes- 
Conversion-Society  that  night,  summoned  expressly  with  a 
view  to  obtaining  Mr.  Godfrey's  advice  and  assistance.  In- 
stead of  sustaining  our  sisterhood,  under  an  overwhelming 
flow  of  trousers  which  had  quite  prostrated  our  little  com- 
munity, he  had  arranged  to  take  cofiPee  in  Montagu  Square, 
and  to  go  to  a  ball  afterward  !  The  afternoon  of  the  next 
day  had  been  selected  for  the  Festival  of  the  British-Ladies'- 
Servants'-Sunday-Sweetheart-Supervision-Societv.  Instead  of 
being  present,  the  life  and  soul  of  that  struggling  Institu- 
tion, he  had  engaged  to  make  one  of  a  party  of  worldlings 
at  a  morning  concert!  I  asked  myself,  What  did  it  mean? 
Alas !  it  meant  that  our  Christian  Hero  was  to  reveal  him- 
self to  me  in  a  new  character,  and  to  become  associated  in 

252 


THE  MOONSTONE 

my  mind  with  one  of  tlie  most  awful  backslidings  of  modern 
times. 

To  return,  however,  to  the  history  of  the  passing  day. 
On  finding  myself  alone  in  my  room,  I  naturally  turned  my 
attention  to  the  parcel  which  appeared  to  have  so  strangely 
intimidated  the  fresh-colored  young  footman.  Had  my  aunt 
sent  me  my  promised  legacy?  and  had  it  taken  the  form  of 
cast-ofif  clothes,  or  worn-out  silver  spoons,  or  unfashionable 
jewelry,  or  any  thing  of  that  sort?  Prepared  to  accept  all, 
and  to  resent  nothing,  I  opened  the  parcel — and  what  met 
my  view  ?  The  twelve  precious  publications  which  I  had  scat- 
tered through  the  house  on  the  previous  day ;  all  returned  to 
me  by  the  doctor's  orders !  Well  might  the  youthful  Samuel 
shrink  when  he  brought  his  parcel  into  my  room !  Well  might 
he  run  when  he  had  performed  his  miserable  errand !  As  to 
my  aunt's  letter,  it  simply  amounted,  poor  soul,  to  this — that 
she  dare  not  disobey  her  medical  man. 

What  was  to  be  done  now?  With  my  training  and  my 
principles,  I  never  had  a  moment's  doubt. 

Once  self-supported  by  conscience,  once  embarked  on  a 
career  of  manifest  usefulness,  the  true  Christian  never  yields. 
Neither  public  nor  private  influences  produce  the  slightest 
effect  on  us,  when  we  have  once  got  our  mission.  Taxation 
may  be  the  consequence  of  a  mission ;  riots  may  be  the  con- 
sequence of  a  mission ;  wars  may  be  the  consequence  of  a 
mission  :  we  go  on  with  our  work,  irrespective  of  every  human 
consideration  which  moves  the  world  outside  us.  We  are 
above  reason ;  we  are  beyond  ridicule ;  we  see  with  nobody's 
eyes,  we  hear  with  nobody's  ears,  we  feel  with  nobody's 
hearts  but  our  own.  Glorious,  glorious  privilege !  And  how 
is  it  earned?  Ah,  my  friends,  you  may  spare  yourselves  the 
useless  inquiry !  We  are  the  only  people  who  can  earn  it — 
for  we  are  the  only  people  who  are  always  right. 

In  the  case  of  my  misguided  aunt,  the  form  which  pious 
perseverance  was  next  to  take  revealed  itself  to  me  plainly 
enough. 

Preparation  by  clerical  friends  had  failed,  owing  to  Lady 
Verinder's  own  reluctance.  Preparation  by  books  had  failed, 
owing  to  the  doctor's  infidel  obstinacy.  So  be  it !  What 
was  the  next  thing  to  try?     The  next  thing  to  try  was — 

253 


THE  MOONSTONE 

preparation  by  little  notes.  In  other  words,  the  books  them- 
selves having  been  sent  back,  select  extracts  from  the  books, 
copied  by  different  hands,  and  all  addressed  as  letters  to  my 
aunt,  were,  some  to  be  sent  by  post,  and  some  to  be  distrib- 
uted about  the  house  on  the  plan  I  had  adopted  on  the  pre- 
vious day.  As  letters  they  would  excite  no  suspicion ;  as 
letters  they  would  be  opened — and,  once  opened,  might  be 
read.  Some  of  them  I  wrote  myself.  "Dear  aunt,  may  I 
ask  your  attention  to  a  few  lines?"  etc.  "Dear  aunt,  I  was 
reading  last  night,  and  I  chanced  on  the  following  passage," 
etc.  Other  letters  were  written  for  me,  by  my  valued  fellow- 
workers,  the  sisterhood  at  the  Mothers'-Srnall-Clothes.  "Dear 
madam,  pardon  the  interest  taken  in  you  by  a  true,  though 
humble,  friend."  "Dear  madam,  may  a  serious  person  sur- 
prise you  by  saying  a  few  cheering  words  ?"  Using  these  and 
other  similar  forms  of  courteous  appeal,  we  reintroduced  all 
my  precious  passages  under  a  form  which  not  even  the  doc- 
tor's watchful  materialism  could  suspect.  Before  the  shades 
of  evening  had  closed  around  us  I  had  a  dozen  awakening 
letters  for  my  aunt,  instead  of  a  dozen  awakening  books. 
Six  I  made  immediate  arrangements  for  sending  through  the 
post,  and  six  I  kept  in  my  pocket  for  personal  distribution 
in  the  house  the  next  day. 

Soon  after  two  o'clock  I  was  again  on  the  field  of  pious 
conflict,  addressing  more  kind  inquiries  to  Samuel  at  Lady 
Verinder's  door. 

My  aunt  had  had  a  bad  night.  She  was  again  in  the  room 
in  which  I  had  witnessed  her  will,  resting  on  the  sofa,  and 
trying  to  get  a  little  sleep.  I  said  I  would  wait  in  the  library, 
on  the  chance  of  seeing  her.  In  the  fervor  of  my  zeal  to 
distribute  the  letters,  it  never  occurred  to  me  to  inquire  about 
Rachel.  The  house  was  quiet,  and  it  was  past  the  hour  at 
which  the  musical  performance  began.  I  took  it  for  granted 
that  she  and  her  party  of  pleasure-seekers — Mr.  Godfrey, 
alas !  included — were  all  at  the  concert,  and  eagerly  devoted 
myself  to  my  good  work,  while  time  and  opportunity  were 
still  at  my  own  disposal. 

My  aunt's  correspondence  of  the  morning — including  the 
six  awakening  letters  which  I  had  posted  overnight — was 
lying  unopened  on  the  library  table.     She  had  evidently  not 

254 


THE  AlOONSTONE 

felt  herself  equal  to  dealing  with  a  large  mass  of  letters — 
and  she  might  be  daunted  by  the  number  of  them,  if  she 
entered  the  library  later  in  the  day.  I  put  one  of  my  second 
set  of  six  letters  on  the  chimney-piece  by  itself;  leaving  it 
to  attract  her  curiosity,  by  means  of  its  solitary  position,  apart 
from  the  rest,  A  second  letter  I  put  purposely  on  the  floor 
in  the  breakfast-room.  The  first  servant  who  went  in  after 
me  would  conclude  that  my  aunt  had  dropped  it,  and  would 
be  specially  careful  to  restore  it  to  her.  The  field  thus  sown 
on  the  basement  story,  I  ran  lightly  up  stairs  to  scatter  my 
mercies  next  over  the  drawing-room  floor. 

Just  as  I  entered  the  front-room  I  heard  a  double  knock 
at  the  street  door — a  soft,  fluttering,  considerate  little  knock. 
Before  I  could  think  of  slipping  back  to  the  library,  in  which 
I  was  supposed  to  be  waiting,  the  active  young  footman  was 
in  the  hall,  answering  the  door.  It  mattered  little,  as  I 
thought.  In  my  aunt's  state  of  health  visitors  in  general 
were  not  admitted.  To  my  horror  and  amazement  the  per- 
former of  the  soft  little  knock  proved  to  be  an  exception  to 
general  rules.  Samuel's  voice  below  me  (after  apparently 
answering  some  questions  which  I  did  not  hear)  said,  unmis- 
takably, "Up  stairs,  if  you  please,  sir."  The  next  moment  I 
heard  footsteps — a  man's  footsteps — approaching  the  draw- 
ing-room floor.  Who  could  this  favored  male  visitor  possibly 
be?  Almost  as  soon  as  I  asked  myself  the  question  the  an- 
swer occurred  to  me.    Who  could  it  be  but  the  doctor? 

In  the  case  of  any  other  visitor  I  should  have  allowed  my- 
self to  be  discovered  in  the  drawing-room.  There  would 
have  been  nothing  out  of  the  common  in  my  having  got  tired 
of  the  library,  and  having  gone  up  stairs  for  a  change.  But 
my  own  self-respect  stood  in  the  way  of  my  meeting  the  per- 
son who  had  insulted  me  by  sending  me  back  my  books.  I 
slipped  into  the  little  third  room,  which  I  have  mentioned  as 
communicating  with  the  back  drawing-room,  and  dropped 
the  curtains  which  closed  the  open  door-way.  If  I  only  waited 
there  for  a  minute  or  two,  the  usual  result  in  such  cases  would 
take  place.  That  is  to  say,  the  doctor  would  be  conducted 
to  his  patient's  room. 

I  waited  a  minute  or  two,  and  more  than  a  minute  or  two. 
I  heard  the  visitor  walking  restlessly  backward  and  forward. 

255 


THE  MOONSTONE 

I  also  heard  him  talking  to  himself.  I  even  thought  I  recog- 
nized the  voice.  Had  I  made  a  mistake?  Was  it  not  the 
doctor,  but  somebody  else ?  Mr.  Bruff,  for  instance?  No  !  an 
unerring  instinct  told  me  it  was  not  Mr.  Bruff.  Whoever  he 
was,  he  was  still  talking  to  himself.  I  parted  the  heavy  cur- 
tains the  least  little  morsel  in  the  world,  and  listened. 

The  words  I  heard  were,  "I'll  do  it  to-day !"    And  the  voice 
that  spoke  them  was  Mr,  Godfrey  Ablewhite's. 


CHAPTER   V. 


MY  hand  dropped  from  the  curtain.  But  don't  suppose — 
oh,  don't  suppose — that  the  dreadful  embarrassment  of 
my  situation  was  the  uppermost  idea  in  my  mind !  So  fervent 
still  was  the  sisterly  interest  I  felt  in  Mr.  Godfrey  that  I 
never  stopped  to  ask  myself  why  he  was  not  at  the  concert. 
No !  I  thought  only  of  the  words — the  startling  words — which 
had  just  fallen  from  his  lips.  He  would  do  it  to-day.  He 
had  said,  in  a  tone  of  terrible  resolution,  he  would  do  it  to- 
day. What,  oh  what,  would  he  do !  Something  even  more 
deplorably  unworthy  of  him  than  what  he  had  done  already? 
Would  he  apostatize  from  the  faith?  Would  he  abandon  us 
at  the  Mothers'-Small-Clothes  ?  Had  we  seen  the  last  of  his 
angelic  smile  in  the  committee-room?  Had  we  heard  the 
last  of  his  unrivaled  eloquence  at  Exeter  Hall?  I  was  so 
wrought  up  by  the  bare  idea  of  such  awful  eventualities  as 
these,  in  connection  with  such  a  man,  that  I  believe  I  should 
have  rushed  from  my  place  of  concealment,  and  implored  him 
in  the  name  of  all  the  Ladies'  Committees  in  London  to  ex- 
plain himself — when  I  suddenly  heard  another  voice  in  the 
room.  It  penetrated  through  the  curtains ;  it  was  loud,  it 
was  bold,  it  was  wanting  in  every  female  charm.  The  voice 
of  Rachel  Verinder ! 

"Why  have  you  come  up  here,  Godfrey  ?"  she  asked.  "Why 
didn't  you  go  into  the  library?" 

He  laughed  softlv,  and  answered,  "Miss  Clack  is  in  the 
library." 

"Clack  in  the  library!"     She  instantly  seated  herself  on 

2:;6 


THE  MOONSTONE 

the  ottoman  in  the  back  drawing-room.  "You  are  quite  right, 
Godfrey.     We  had  much  better  stop  here." 

I  had  been  in  a  burning  fever  a  moment  since,  and  in  some 
doubt  what  to  do  next.  I  became  extremely  cold  now,  and 
felt  no  doubt  whatever.  To  show  myself  after  what  I  had 
heard,  was  impossible.  To  retreat — except  into  the  fire-place 
— was  equally  out  of  the  question.  A  martyrdom  was  before 
me.  In  justice  to  myself,  I  noiselessly  arranged  the  curtains 
so  that  I  could  both  see  and  hear.  And  then  I  met  my 
martyrdom  with  the  spirit  of  a  primitive  Christian. 

"Don't  sit  on  the  ottoman,"  the  young  lady  proceeded. 
"Bring  a  chair,  Godfrey.  I  like  people  to  be  opposite  to  me 
when  I  talk  to  them." 

He  took  the  nearest  seat.  It  was  a  low  chair.  He  was 
very  tall,  and  many  sizes  too  large  for  it.  I  never  saw  his 
legs  to  such  disadvantage  before. 

"Well?"  she  went  on.     "What  did  you  say  to  them?" 

"Just  what  you  said,  dear  Rachel,  to  me." 

"That  mamma  was  not  at  all  well  to-day?  And  that  I 
didn't  quite  like  leaving  her  to  go  to  the  concert?" 

"Those  were  the  words.  They  were  grieved  to  lose  you 
at  the  concert,  but  they  quite  understood.  All  sent  their  love ; 
and  all  expressed  a  cheering  belief  that  Lady  Verinder's  in- 
disposition would  soon  pass  away." 

"Yoii  don't  think  it's  serious,  do  you,  Godfrey?" 

"Far  from  it !  In  a  few  days,  I  feel  quite  sure,  all  will  be 
well  again." 

"I  think  so  too.  I  was  a  little  frightened  at  first,  but  I 
think  so  too.  It  was  very  kind  to  go  and  make  my  excuses 
for  me  to  people  who  are  almost  strangers  to  you.  But  why 
not  have  gone  with  them  to  the  concert  ?  It  seems  very  hard 
that  you  should  miss  the  music,  too." 

"Don't  say  that,  Rachel !  If  you  only  knew  how  much 
happier  I  am — here,  with  you !" 

He  clasped  his  hands,  and  looked  at  her.  In  the  position 
which  he  occupied,  when  he  did  that,  he  turned  my  way. 
Can  words  describe  how  I  sickened  when  I  noticed  exactly 
the  same  pathetic  expression  on  his  face,  which  had  charmed 
me  when  he  was  pleading  for  destitute  millions  of  his  fellow- 
creatures  on  the  platform  dt  Exeter  Hall ! 

17  257 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"It's  hard  to  get  over  one's  bad  habits,  Godfrey.  But  do 
try  to  get  over  the  habit  of  paying  compliments — do,  to 
please  me." 

'T  never  paid  yoti  a  compliment,  Rachel,  in  my  life.  Suc- 
cessful love  may  sometimes  use  the  language  of  flattery,  I 
admit.     But  hopeless  love,  dearest,  always  speaks  the  truth." 

He  drew  his  chair  close,  and  took  her  hand,  when  he  said 
"hopeless  love."  There  was  a  momentary  silence.  He  who 
thrilled  every  body  had  doubtless  thrilled  her.  I  thought  I 
now  understood  the  words  which  had  dropped  from  him 
when  he  was  alone  in  the  drawing-room.  "I'll  do  it  to-day." 
Alas !  the  most  rigid  propriety  could  hardly  have  failed  to 
discover  that  he  was  doing  it  now. 

"Have  you  forgotten  what  we  agreed  on,  Godfrey,  when 
you  spoke  to  me  in  the  country?  We  agreed  that  we  were 
to  be  cousins,  and  nothing  more." 

"I  break  the  agreement,  Rachel,  every  time  I  see  you." 

"Then  don't  see  me." 

"Quite  useless !  I  break  the  agreement  every  time  I  think 
of  you.  Oh,  Rachel !  how  kindly  you  told  me,  only  the  other 
day,  that  my  place  in  your  estimation  was  a  higher  place 
than  it  had  ever  been  yet !  Am  I  mad  to  build  the  hopes  I 
do  on  those  dear  words  ?  Am  I  mad  to  dream  of  some  future 
dav  when  your  heart  may  soften  to  me?  Don't  tell  me  so, 
if  I  am !  Leave  me  my  delusion,  dearest !  I  must  have  that 
to  cherish  and  to  comfort  me,  if  I  have  nothing  else !" 

His  voice  trembled,  and  he  put  his  white  handkerchief  to 
his  eyes.  Exeter  Hall  again !  Nothing  wanting  to  complete 
the  parallel  but  the  audience,  the  cheers,  and  the  glass  of 
water. 

Even  her  obdurate  nature  was  touched.  I  saw  her  lean  a 
little  nearer  to  him.  I  heard  a  new  tone  of  interest  in  her 
next  words. 

"Are  you  really  sure,  Godfrey,  that  you  are  as  fond  of  me 
as  that?" 

"Sure!  You  know  what  I  was,  Rachel.  Let  me  tell  you 
what  I  am.  I  have  lost  every  interest  in  life,  but  my  interest 
in  you.  A  transformation  has  come  over  me  which  I  can't 
account  for,  myself.  Would  you  believe  it?  My  charitable 
business  is  an  unendurable  nuisance  to  me;  and  when  I  see 

258 


THE  MOONSTONE 

a  Ladies'  Committee  now,  I  wish  myself  at  the  uttermost 
ends  of  the  earth  !" 

If  the  annals  of  apostasy  ofifer  any  thing  comparable  to 
such  a  declaration  as  that,  I  can  only  say  that  the  case  in 
point  is  not  producible  from  the  stores  of  my  reading.  I 
thought  of  the  Mothers'-Small-Clothes.  I  thought  of  the 
Sunday-Sweetheart-Supervision.  I  thought  of  the  other  So- 
cieties, too  numerous  to  mention,  all  built  up  on  this  man  a3 
on  a  tower  of  strength.  I  thought  of  the  struggling  Female 
Boards,  who,  so  to  speak,  drew  the  breath  of  their  business- 
life  through  the  nostrils  of  Mr.  Godfrey — of  that  same  Mr. 
Godfrey  who  had  just  reviled  our  good  work  as  a  "nuisance" 
— and  just  declared  that  he  wished  he  was  at  the  uttermost 
ends  of  the  earth  when  he  found  himself  in  our  company ! 
My  young  female  friends  will  feel  encouraged  to  persevere, 
when  I  mention  that  it  tried  even  my  discipline  before  I 
could  devour  my  own  righteous  indignation  in  silence.  At 
the  same  time,  it  is  only  justice  to  myself  to  add,  that  I  didn't 
lose  a  syllable  of  the  conversation.  Rachel  was  the  next  to 
speak. 

"You  have  made  your  confession,"  she  said.  'T  wonder 
whether  it  would  cure  you  of  your  unhappy  attachment  to 
me,  if  I  made  mine?" 

He  started.  I  confess  I  started  too.  He  thought,  and  I 
thought,  that  she  was  about  to  divulge  the  mystery  of  the 
Moonstone. 

"Would  you  think,  to  look  at  me,"  she  went  on,  "that  I 
am  the  wretchedest  girl  living?  It's  true,  Godfrey.  What 
greater  wretchedness  can  there  be  than  to  live  degraded  in 
your  own  estimation  ?    That  is  my  life  now." 

"My  dear  Rachel !  it's  impossible  you  can  have  any  reason 
to  speak  of  yourself  in  that  way !" 

"How  do  you  know  I  have  no  reason  ?" 

"Can  you  ask  me  the  question  !  I  know  it,  because  I  know 
yon.  Your  silence,  dearest,  has  never  lowered  you  in 
the  estimation  of  your  true  friends.  The  disappearance 
of  your  precious  birthday  gift  may  seem  strange ;  your 
unexplained  connection  with  that  event  mav  seem  stranger 
still—" 

"Are  you  speaking  of  the  Moonstone,  Godfrey?" 

259 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"I  certainly  thought  that  you  referred — " 

"I  referred  to  nothing  of  the  sort.  I  can  hear  of  the  loss 
of  the  Moonstone,  let  who  will  speak  of  it,  without  feeling 
degraded  in  my  own  estimation.  If  the  story  of  the  Dia- 
mond ever  comes  to  light,  it  will  be  known  that  I  accepted 
a  dreadful  responsibility ;  it  will  be  known  that  I  involved 
myself  in  the  keeping  of  a  miserable  secret — but  it  will  be 
as  clear  as  the  sun  at  noonday  that  I  did  nothing  mean ! 
You  have  misunderstood  me,  Godfrey.  It's  my  fault  for  not 
speaking  more  plainly.  Cost  me  what  it  may,  I  will  be  plainer 
now.  Suppose  you  were  not  in  love  with  me?  Suppose  you 
were  in  love  with  some  other  woman?" 

"Yes?" 

"Suppose  you  discovered  that  woman  to  be  utterly  un- 
worthy of  you?  Suppose  you  were  quite  convinced  that  it 
was  a  disgrace  to  you  to  waste  another  thought  on  her? 
Suppose  the  bare  idea  of  ever  marrying  such  a  person  made 
your  face  burn,  only  with  thinking  of  it?" 

"Yes?" 

"And,  suppose,  in  spite  of  all  that — you  couldn't  tear  her 
from  your  heart?  Suppose  the  feeling  she  had  roused  in 
you,  in  the  time  when  you  believed  in  her,  was  a  feeling  not 
to  be  hidden?  Suppose  the  love  this  wretch  had  inspired  in 
you — ?  Oh,  how  can  I  find  words  to  say  it  in!  How  can  I 
make  a  man  understand  that  a  feeling  which  horrifies  me  at 
myself  can  be  a  feeling  that  fascinates  me  at  the  same  time? 
It's  the  breath  of  my  life,  Godfrey,  and  it's  the  poison  that 
kills  me — both  in  one !  Go  away !  I  must  be  out  of  my  mind 
to  talk  as  I  am  talking  now.  No !  you  mustn't  leave  me — 
you  mustn't  carry  away  a  wrong  impression.  I  must  say 
what  is  to  be  said  in  my  own  defense.  Mind  this !  He 
doesn't  know — he  never  will  know,  what  I  have  told  you. 
I  will  never  see  him — I  don't  care  what  happens — I  will 
never,  never,  never  see  him  again !  Don't  ask  me  his  name ! 
Don't  ask  me  any  more!  Let's  change  the  subject.  Are  you 
doctor  enough,  Godfrey,  to  tell  me  why  I  feel  as  if  I  was 
stifling  for  want  of  breath  ?  Is  there  a  form  of  hysterics  that 
bursts  into  words  instead  of  tears  ?  I  dare  say !  What  does 
it  matter?  You  will  get  over  any  trouble  I  have  caused  you, 
easily  enough  now.    I  have  dropped  to  my  right  place  in  your 

260 


THE  MOONSTONE 

estimation,  haven't  I  ?     Don't  notice  me !     Don't  pity  me ! 
For  God's  sake,  go  away!" 

She  turned  round  on  a  sudden,  and  beat  her  hands  wildly 
on  the  back  of  the  ottoman.  Her  head  dropped  on  the  cush- 
ions ;  and  she  burst  out  crying.  Before  I  had  time  to  feel 
shocked  at  this,  I  was  horror-struck  by  an  entirely  unex- 
pected proceeding  on  the  part  of  Mr.  Godfrey.  Will  it  be 
credited  that  he  fell  on  his  knees  at  her  feet? — on  both 
knees,  I  solemnly  declare !  May  modesty  mention  that  he  put 
his  arms  round  her  next?  And  may  reluctant  admiration 
acknowledge  that  he  electrified  her  with  two  words? 

"Noble  creature !" 

No  more  than  that!  But  he  did  it  with  one  of  the  bursts 
which  have  made  his  fame  as  a  public  speaker.  She  sat, 
either  quite  thunderstruck,  or  quite  fascinated — I  don't  know 
which — without  even  making  an  effort  to  put  his  arms  back 
where  his  arms  ought  to  have  been.  As  for  me,  my  sense 
of  propriety  was  completely  bewildered.  I  was  so  painfully 
uncertain  whether  it  was  my  first  duty  to  close  my  eyes,  or 
to  stop  my  ears,  that  I  did  neither.  I  attribute  my  being  still 
able  to  hold  the  curtain  in  the  right  position  for  looking  and 
listening,  entirely  to  suppressed  hysterics.  In  suppressed 
hysterics,  it  is  admitted  even  by  the  doctors,  that  one  must 
hold  something. 

"Yes,"  he  said,  with  all  the  fascination  of  his  evangelical 
voice  and  manner,  "you  are  a  noble  creature!  A  woman 
who  can  speak  the  truth,  for  the  truth's  own  sake — a  woman 
who  will  sacrifice  her  pride,  rather  than  sacrifice  an  honest 
man  who  loves  her — is  the  most  priceless  of  all  treasures. 
When  such  a  woman  marries,  if  her  husband  only  wins  her 
esteem  and  regard,  he  wins  enough  to  ennoble  his  whole  life. 
You  have  spoken,  dearest,  of  your  place  in  my  estimation. 
Judge  what  that  place  is — when  I  implore  you  on  my  knees, 
to  let  the  cure  of  your  poor  wounded  heart  be  my  care. 
Rachel !  will  you  honor  me,  will  you  bless  me,  by  being  my 
wife?" 

By  this  time  I  should  certainly  have  decided  on  stopping 
my  ears,  if  Rachel  had  not  encouraged  me  to  keep  them 
open,  by  answering  him  in  the  first  sensible  words  I  had  ever 
heard  fall  from  her  lips. 

261 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Godfrey!"  she  said,  "you  must  be  mad!" 

"I  never  spoke  more  reasonably,  dearest — in  your  interests, 
as  well  as  in  mine.  Look  for  a  moment  to  the  future.  Is 
your  happiness  to  be  sacrificed  to  a  man  who  has  never  known 
how  you  feel  toward  him,  and  whom  you  are  resolved  never 
to  see  again?  Is  it  not  your  duty  to  yourself  to  forget  this 
ill-fated  attachment?  and  is  forgetfulness  to  be  found  in  the 
life  you  are  leading  now?  You  have  tried  that  life,  and  you 
are  wearying  of  it  already.  Surround  yourself  with  nobler 
interests  than  the  wretched  interests  of  the  world.  A  heart 
that  loves  and  honors  you ;  a  home  whose  peaceful  claims  and 
happy  duties  win  gently  on  you  day  by  day — try  the  conso- 
lation, Rachel,  which  is  to  be  found  there!  I  don't  ask  for 
your  love — I  will  be  content  with  your  affection  and  regard. 
Let  the  rest  be  left,  confidently  left,  to  your  husband's  devo- 
tion, and  to  Time,  that  heals  even  wounds  as  deep  as  yours." 

She  began  to  yield  already.  Oh,  what  a  bringing-up  she 
must  have  had !  Oh,  how  differently  I  should  have  acted  in 
her  place ! 

"Don't  tempt  me,  Godfrey,"  she  said ;  "I  am  wretched 
enough  and  reckless  enough  as  it  is.  Don't  tempt  me  to  be 
more  wretched  and  more  reckless  still !" 

"One  question,  Rachel.  Have  you  any  personal  objection 
to  me?" 

"I !  I  always  liked  you.  After  what  you  have  just  said 
to  me,  I  should  be  insensible  indeed  if  I  didn't  respect  and 
admire  you  as  well." 

"Do  you  know  many  wives,  my  dear  Rachel,  who  respect 
and  admire  their  husbands?  And  yet  they  and  their  hus- 
bands get  on  very  well.  How  many  brides  go  to  the  altar 
with  hearts  that  would  bear  inspection  by  the  men  who  take 
them  there?  And  yet  it  doesn't  end  unhappily — somehow  or 
other  the  nuptial  establishment  jogs  on.  The  truth  is,  that 
women  try  marriage  as  a  refuge,  far  more  numerously  than 
they  are  willing  to  admit ;  and,  what  is  more,  they  find  that 
marriage  has  justified  their  confidence  in  it.  Look  at  your 
own  case  once  again.  At  your  age,  and  with  your  attractions, 
is  it  possible  for  you  to  sentence  yourself  to  a  single  life? 
Trust  my  knowledge  of  the  world — nothing  is  less  possible. 
It  is  merely  a  question  of  time.    You  may  marry  some  other 

262 


THE  MOONSTONE 

man,  some  years  hence.  Or  you  may  marry  the  man,  dearest, 
who  is  now  at  your  feet,  and  who  prizes  your  respect  and 
admiration  above  the  love  of  any  other  woman  on  the  face 
of  the  earth." 

"Gently,  Godfrey !  you  are  putting  something  into  my  head 
which  I  never  thought  of  before.  You  are  tempting  me  with 
a  new  prospect,  when  all  my  other  prospects  are  closed  before 
me.  I  tell  you  again,  I  am  miserable  enough  and  desperate 
enough,  if  you  say  another  word,  to  marry  you  on  your  own 
terms.     Take  the  warning,  and  go !" 

'T  won't  even  rise  from  my  knees  till  you  have  said  yes !" 

"If  I  say  yes  you  will  repent,  and  I  shall  repent  when  it  is 
too  late!" 

"We  shall  both  bless  the  day,  darling,  when  I  pressed,  and 
when  you  yielded." 

"Do  you  feel  as  confidently  as  you  speak?" 

"You  shall  judge  for  yourself.  I  speak  from  what  I  have 
seen  in  my  own  family.  Tell  me  what  you  think  of  our  house- 
hold at  Frizinghall.  Do  my  father  and  mother  live  unhappily 
together  ?" 

"Far  from  it — so  far  as  I  can  see." 

"When  my  mother  was  a  girl,  Rachel,  it  is  no  secret  in 
the  family,  she  had  loved  as  you  love — she  had  given  her 
heart  to  a  man  who  was  unworthy  of  her.  She  married  my 
father,  respecting  him,  admiring  him,  but  nothing  more. 
Your  own  eyes  have  seen  the  result.  Is  there  no  encourage- 
ment in  it  for  you  and  for  me?"^ 

"You  won't  hurry  me,  Godfrey?" 

"My  time  shall  be  yours." 

"You  won't  ask  me  for  more  than  I  can  give?" 

"My  angel !  I  onlv  ask  you  to  give  me  vourself." 

"Take  me !" 

In  those  two  words  she  accepted  him ! 

He  had  another  burst — a  burst  of  unholy  rapture  this  time. 
He  drew  her  nearer  and  nearer  to  him  till  her  face  touched 
his;  and  then —  No!  I  really  can  not  prevail  upon  myself 
to  carry  this  shocking  disclosure  any  farther.  Let  me  only 
say  that  I  tried  to  close  my  eyes  before  it  happened,  and  that 
I  was  just  one  moment  too  late.     I  had  calculated,  you  see, 

^  See  Betteredge's  Narrative.     Chapter  VIII.,  page  68, 
263 


THE  MOONSTONE 

on  her  resisting.  She  submitted.  To  every  right-feeling  per- 
son of  my  own  sex  volumes  could  say  no  more. 

Even  my  innocence  in  such  matters  began  to  see  its  way 
to  the  end  of  the  interview  now.  They  understood  each 
other  so  thoroughly  by  this  time  that  I  fully  expected  to  see 
them  walk  off  together,  arm  in  arm,  to  be  married.  There 
appeared,  however,  judging  by  Mr.  Godfrey's  next  words,  to 
be  one  more  trifling  formality  which  it  was  necessary  to  ob- 
serve. He  seated  himself — unforbidden  this  time — on  the 
ottoman  by  her  side.  "Shall  I  speak  to  your  dear  mother?" 
he  asked.     "Or  will  you?" 

She  declined  both  alternatives. 

"Let  my  mother  hear  nothing  from  either  of  us  until  she 
is  better.  I  wish  it  to  be  kept  a  secret  for  the  present,  God- 
frey. Go  now,  and  come  back  this  evening.  We  have  been 
here  alone  together  quite  long  enough." 

She  rose,  and,  in  rising,  looked  for  the  first  time  toward 
the  little  room  in  which  my  martyrdom  was  going  on. 

"Who  has  drawn  those  curtains?"  she  exclaimed.  "The 
room  is  close  enough  as  it  is,  without  keeping  the  air  out  of 
it  in  that  way." 

She  advanced  to  the  curtains.  At  the  moment  when  she 
laid  her  hand  on  them — at  the  moment  when  the  discovery 
of  me  appeared  to  be  quite  inevitable — the  voice  of  the  fresh- 
colored  young  footman,  on  the  stairs,  suddenly  suspended 
any  further  proceedings  on  her  side  or  on  mine.  It  was  un- 
mistakably the  voice  of  a  man  in  great  alarm. 

"Miss  Rachel !"  he  called  out,  "where  are  vou.  Miss 
Rachel?" 

She  sprang  back  from  the  curtains  and  ran  to  the  door. 

The  footman  came  just  inside  the  room.  His  ruddy  color 
was  all  gone.  He  said,  "Please  come  down  stairs,  miss !  My 
lady  has  fainted,  and  we  can't  bring  her  to  again." 

In  a  moment  more  I  was  alone,  and  free  to  go  down  stairs 
in  my  turn,  quite  unobserved. 

Mr.  Godfrey  passed  me  in  the  hall,  hurrying  out,  to  fetch 
the  doctor.  "Go  in,  and  help  them !"  he  said,  pointing  to  the 
room.  I  found  Rachel  on  her  knees  by  the  sofa,  with  her 
mother's  head  on  her  bosom.  One  look  at  my  aunt's  face, 
knowing  what  I  knew,  was  enough  to  warn  me  of  the  dread- 

264 


THE  MOONSTOxNE 

ful  truth.  I  kept  my  thoughts  to  myself  till  the  doctor  came 
in.  It  was  not  long  before  he  arrived.  He  began  by  sending 
Rachel  out  of  the  room — and  then  he  told  the  rest  of  us 
that  Lady  Verinder  was  no  more.  Serious  persons,  in  search 
of  proofs  of  hardened  skepticism,  may  be  interested  in  hear- 
ing that  he  showed  no  signs  of  remorse  when  he  looked  at  me. 
At  a  later  hour  I  peeped  into  the  breakfast-room  and  the 
library.  My  aunt  had  died  without  opening  one  of  the  let- 
ters which  I  had  addressed  to  her.  I  was  so  shocked  at  this 
that  it  never  occurred  to  me,  until  some  days  afterward,  that 
she  had  also  died  without  giving  me  my  little  legacy. 


CHAPTER    VI. 

(i.)  "Miss  Clack  presents  her  compliments  to  Mr.  Frank- 
lin Blake ;  and.  in  sending  him  the  fifth  chapter  of  her 
humble  narrative,  begs  to  say  that  she  feels  quite  unequal  to 
enlarge  as  she  could  wish  on  an  event  so  awful,  under  the 
circumstances,  as  Lady  Verinder's  death.  She  has,  therefore, 
attached  to  her  own  manuscript  copious  Extracts  from  pre- 
cious publications  in  her  possession,  all  bearing  on  this  terrible 
subject.  And  may  those  Extracts,  Miss  Clack  fervently 
hopes,  sound  as  the  blast  of  a  trumpet  in  the  ears  of  her 
respected  kinsman,  Mr.  Franklin  Blake." 

(2.)  "Mr.  Franklin  Blake  presents  his  compliments  to  Miss 
Clack,  and  begs  to  thank  her  for  the  fifth  chapter  of  her 
narrative.  In  returning  the  extracts  sent  with  it,  he  will  re- 
frain from  mentioning  any  personal  objection  which  he  may 
entertain  to  this  species  of  literature,  and  will  merely  say  that 
the  proposed  additions  to  the  manuscript  are  not  necessary 
to  the  fulfillment  of  the  purpose  that  he  has  in  view." 

(3.)  "Miss  Clack  begs  to  acknowledge  the  return  of  her 
Extracts.  She  afifectionately  reminds  ]\Tr.  Franklin  Blake 
that  she  is  a  Christian,  and  that  it  is,  therefore,  quite  impos- 
sible for  him  to  ofifend  her.  Miss  C.  persists  in  feeling  the 
deepest  interest  in  Mr.  Blake,  and  pledges  herself,  on  the 
first  occasion  when  sickness  may  lay  him  low,  to  oflfer  him 
the  use  of  her  Extracts  for  the  second  time.     In  the  mean 

265 


THE  MOONSTONE 

while  she  would  be  glad  to  know,  before  beginning  the  next 
and  last  chapter  of  her  narrative,  whether  she  may  be  per- 
mitted to  make  her  humble  contribution  complete  by  availing 
herself  of  the  light  which  later  discoveries  have  thrown  on 
the  mystery  of  the  Moonstone." 

(4.)  "Mr.  Franklin  Blake  is  sorry  to  disappoint  Miss  Clack, 
He  can  only  repeat  the  instructions  which  he  had  the  honor 
of  giving  her  when  she  began  her  narrative.  She  is  requested 
to  limit  herself  to  her  own  individual  experience  of  persons 
and  events,  as  recorded  in  her  Diary.  Later  discoveries  she 
will  be  good  enough  to  leave  to  the  pens  of  those  persons 
who  can  write  in  the  capacity  of  actual  witnesses." 

(5.)  "Miss  Clack  is  extremely  sorry  to  trouble  Mr.  Frank- 
lin Blake  with  another  letter.  Her  Extracts  have  been 
returned,  and  the  expression  of  her  matured  views  on  the 
subject  of  the  Moonstone  has  been  forbidden.  Miss  Clack 
is  painfully  conscious  that  she  ought,  in  the  worldly  phrase, 
to  feel  herself  put  down.  But,  no — Miss  C.  has  learned  Per- 
severance in  the  School  of  Adversity.  Her  object  in  writing 
is  to  know  whether  Mr.  Blake,  who  prohibits  every  thing 
else,  prohibits  the  appearance  of  the  present  correspondence 
in  Miss  Clack's  narrative?  Some  explanation  of  the  position 
in  which  Mr.  Blake's  interference  has  placed  her  as  an 
authoress,  seems  due  on  the  ground  of  common  justice.  And 
Miss  Clack,  on  her  side,  is  most  anxious  that  her  letters 
should  be  produced  to  speak  for  themselves." 

(6.)  "Mr.  Franklin  Blake  agrees  to  Miss  Clack's  proposal, 
on  the  understanding  that  she  will  kindly  consider  this  inti- 
mation of  his  consent  as  closing  the  correspondence  between 
them." 

(7.)  "Miss  Clack  feels  it  an  act  of  Christian  duty,  before 
the  correspondence  closes,  to  inform  Mr.  Franklin  Blake  that 
his  last  letter — evidently  intended  to  ofifend  her — has  not  suc- 
ceeded in  accomplishing  the  object  of  the  writer.  She  affec- 
tionately requests  Mr.  Blake  to  retire  to  the  privacy  of  his 
own  room,  and  to  consider  with  himself  whether  the  training 
which  can  thus  elevate  a  poor  weak  woman  above  the  reach 
of  insult,  be  not  worthy  of  greater  admiration  than  he  is  now 
disposed  to  feel  for  it.  On  being  favored  with  an  intimation 
to   that   effect.    Miss    C.   solemnly   pledges   herself  to   send 

266 


THE  MOONSTONE 

back  the  complete  series  of  her  Extracts  to   Mr.   Franklin 
Blake." 

[To    this    letter   no   answer    was    received.     Comment    is 
needless. 

(Signed)  Drusilla  Clack.] 


CHAPTER  VH. 

THE  foregoing-  correspondence  will  sufficiently  explain 
why  no  choice  is  left  me  but  to  pass  over  Lady  Verin- 
der's  death  with  the  simple  announcement  of  the  fact,  which 
ends  my  fifth  chapter. 

Keeping  myself  .for  the  future  strictly  within  the  limits 
of  my  own  personal  experience,  I  have  next  to  relate  that  a 
month  elapsed  from  the  time  of  my  aunt's  decease  before 
Rachel  Verinder  and  I  met  again.  That  meeting  was  the  oc- 
casion of  my  spending  a  few  days  under  the  same  roof  with 
her.  In  the  course  of  my  visit  something  happened,  relating 
to  her  marriage  engagement  with  Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite, 
which  is  important  enough  to  require  special  notice  in  these 
pages.  When  this  last  of  many  painful  family  circumstances 
has  been  disclosed,  my  task  will  be  completed ;  for  I  shall  then 
have  told  all  that  I  know,  as  an  actual,  and  most  unwilling, 
witness  of  events. 

My  aunt's  remains  were  removed  from  London,  and  were 
buried  in  the  little  cemetery  attached  to  the  church  in  her 
own  park,  I  was  invited  to  the  funeral  with  the  rest  of  the 
family.  But  it  was  impossible,  with  my  religious  views,  to 
rouse  myself  in  a  few  days  only  from  the  shock  which  this 
death  had  caused  me.  I  was  informed,  moreover,  that  the 
rector  of  Frizinghall  was  to  read  the  service.  Having  myself 
in  past  times  seen  this  clerical  castaway  making  one  of  the 
players  at  Lady  Verinder's  whist-table,  I  doubt,  even  if  I  had 
been  fit  to  travel,  whether  I  should  have  felt  justified  in  at- 
tending the  ceremony. 

Lady  Verinder's  death  left  her  daughter  under  the  care  of 
her  brother-in-law,  Mr.  Ablewhite  the  elder.  He  was  ap- 
pointed guardian  by  the  will,  until  his  niece  married,  or  came 

267 


THE  MOONSTONE 

of  age.  Under  those  circumstances,  Mr.  Godfrey  informed 
his  father,  I  suppose,  of  the  new  relation  in  which  he  stood 
toward  Rachel.  At  any  rate,  in  ten  days  from  my  aunt's 
death,  the  secret  of  the  marriage  engagement  was  no  secret 
at  all  within  the  circle  of  the  family,  and  the  grand  question 
for  Mr.  Ablewhite  senior — another  confirmed  castaway  ! — was 
how  to  make  himself  and  his  authority  most  agreeable  to  the 
wealthy  young  lady  who  was  going  to  marry  his  son. 

Rachel  gave  him  some  trouble,  at  the  outset,  about  the 
choice  of  a  place  in  which  she  could  be  prevailed  upon  to 
reside.  The  house  in  Montagu  Square  was  associated  with 
the  calamity  of  her  mother's  death.  The  house  in  Yorkshire 
was  associated  with  the  scandalous  affair  of  the  lost  Moon- 
stone. Her  guardian's  own  residence  at  Frizinghall  was  open 
to  neither  of  these  objections.  But  Rachel's  presence  in  it, 
after  her  recent  bereavement,  operated  as  a  check  on  the 
gayeties  of  her  cousins,  the  Miss  Ablewhites — and  she  herself 
requested  that  her  visit  might  be  deferred  to  a  more  favorable 
©pportunity.  It  ended  in  a  proposal,  emanating  from  old  ]\Ir. 
Ablewhite,  to  try  a  furnished  house  at  Brighton.  His  wife, 
an  invalid  daughter,  and  Rachel  were  to  inhabit  it  together, 
and  were  to  expect  him  to  join  them  later  in  the  season. 
They  would  see  no  society  but  a  few  old  friends,  and  they 
would  have  his  son  Godfrey,  traveling  backward  and  forward 
by  the  London  train,  always  at  their  disposal. 

I  describe  this  aimless  flitting  about  from  one  place  of  resi- 
dence to  another — this  insatiate  restlessness  of  body  and  ap- 
palling stagnation  of  soul — merely  with  a  view  of  arriving  at 
results.  The  event  which,  under  Providence,  proved  to  be  the 
means  of  bringing  Rachel  Verinder  and  myself  together 
again,  was  no  other  than  the  hiring  of  the  house  at  Brighton. 

My  Aunt  Ablewhite  is  a  large,  silent,  fair-complexioned 
woman,  with  one  noteworthy  point  in  her  character.  From 
the  hour  of  her  birth  she  has  never  been  known  to  do  any 
thing  for  herself.  She  has  gone  through  life  accepting  every 
body's  help,  and  adopting  every  body's  opinions.  A  more 
hopeless  person,  in  a  spiritual  point  of  view.  I  have  never 
met  with — there  is  absolutely,  in  this  perplexing  case,  no  ob- 
structive material  to  work  upon.  Aunt  Ablewhite  would 
listen  to  the  Grand  Lama  of  Thibet  exactly  as  she  listens  to 

268 


THE  MOONSTONE 

me,  and  would  reflect  his  views  quite  as  readily  as  she  re- 
flects mine.  She  found  the  furnished  house  at  Brighton  by 
stopping  at  a  hotel  in  London,  composing  herself  on  a  sofa, 
and  sending  for  her  son.  She  discovered  the  necessary  ser- 
vants by  breakfasting  in  bed  one  morning,  still  at  the  hotel, 
and  giving  her  maid  a  holiday  on  condition  that  the  girl 
"would  begin  enjoying  herself  by  fetching  Miss  Clack."  I 
found  her  placidly  fanning  herself  in  her  dressing-gown  at 
eleven  o'clock.  "Drusilla,  dear,'  I  want  some  servants.  You 
are  so  clever — please  get  them  for  me."  I  looked  round  the 
untidy  room.  The  church  bells  were  going  for  a  week-day 
service ;  they  suggested  a  word  of  affectionate  remonstrance 
on  my  part.  "Oh,  aunt !"  I  said,  sadly,  "is  this  worthy  of 
a  Christian  Englishwoman  ?  Is  the  passage  from  time  to 
eternity  to  be  made  in  this  manner?"  My  aunt  answered, 
"I'll  put  on  my  gown,  Drusilla,  if  you  will  be  kind  enough 
to  help  me."  What  was  to  be  said  after  that?  I  have  done 
wonders  with  murderesses — I  have  never  advanced  an  inch 
with  Aunt  Ablewhite.  "Where  is  the  list,"  I  asked,  "of  the 
servants  whom  you  require  ?"  My  aunt  shook  her  head ;  she 
hadn't  even  energy  enough  to  keep  the  list.  "Rachel  has  got 
it,  dear,"' she  said,  "in  the  next  room."  I  went  into  the  next 
room,  and  so  saw  Rachel  again,  for  the  first  time  since  we 
had  parted  in  Montagu  Square. 

She  looked  pitiably  small  and  thin  in  her  deep  mourning. 
If  I  attached  any  serious  importance  to  such  a  perishable 
trifle  as  personal  appearance,  I  might  be  inclined  to  add  that 
hers  was  one  of  those  unfortunate  complexions  which  always 
suffers  when  not  relieved  by  a  border  of  white  next  the  skin. 
But  what  are  our  complexions  and  our  looks?  Hinderances 
and  pitfalls,  dear  girls,  which  beset  us  on  our  way  to  higher 
things  !  Greatly  to  my  surprise,  Rachel  rose  when  I  entered  the 
room,  and  came  forward  to  meet  me  with  outstretched  hand. 

"I  am  glad  to  see  you,"  she  said.  "Drusilla,  I  have  been 
in  the  habit  of  speaking  very  foolishly  and  very  rudely  to 
you,  on  former  occasions.  I  beg  your  pardon.  I  hope  you 
will  forgive  me." 

My  face,  I  suppose,  betrayed  the  astonishment  I  felt  at  this. 
She  colot^'=''^  up  for  a  moment,  and  then  proceeded  to  explain 
herself. 

369 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"In  my  poor  mother's  lifetime,"  she  went  on,  "her  friends 
were  not  always  my  friends  too.  Now  I  have  lost  her,  my 
heart  turns  for  comfort  to  the  people  she  liked.  She  liked 
you.    Try  to  be  friends  with  me,  Drusilla,  if  you  can." 

To  any  rightly-constituted  mind  the  motive  thus  acknow- 
ledged was  simply  shocking.  Here  in  Christian  England 
was  a  young  woman  in  a  state  of  bereavement,  with  so  little 
idea  of  where  to  look  for  true  comfort,  that  she  actually  ex- 
pected to  find  it  among  her  mother's  friends !  Here  was  a 
relative  of  mine,  awakened  to  a  sense  of  her  shortcomings 
toward  others,  under  the  influence,  not  of  conviction  and  duty, 
but  of  sentiment  and  impulse !  Most  deplorable  to  think  of 
— but  still,  suggestive  of  something  hopeful,  to  a  person  of 
my  experience  in  plying  the  good  work.  There  could  be  no 
harm,  I  thought,  in  ascertaining  the  extent  of  the  change 
which  the  loss  of  her  mother  had  wrought  in  Rachel's  char- 
acter. I  decided,  as  a  useful  test,  to  probe  her  on  the  subject 
of  her  marriage  engagement  to  Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite. 

Having  first  met  her  advances  with  all  possible  cordiality, 
I  sat  by  her  on  the  sofa  at  her  own  request.  We  discussed 
family  afifairs  and  future  plans — always  excepting  that  one 
future  plan  which  was  to  end  in  her  marriage.  -Try  as  I 
might  to  turn  the  conversation  that  way,  she  resolutely  de- 
clined to  take  the  hint.  Any  open  reference  to  the  question, 
on  my  part,  would  have  been  premature  at  this  early  stage 
of  our  reconciliation.  Besides,  I  had  discovered  all  I  wanted 
to  know.  She  was  no  longer  the  reckless,  defiant  creature 
whom  I  had  heard  and  seen  on  the  occasion  of  my  martyr- 
dom in  Montagu  Square.  This  was,  of  itself,  enough  to 
encourage  me  to  take  her  conversion  in  hand — beginning 
with  a  few  words  of  earnest  warning  directed  against  the 
hasty  formation  of  the  marriage  tie,  and  so  getting  on  to 
higher  things.  Looking  at  her  now,  with  this  new  interest — 
and  calling  to  mind  the  headlong  suddenness  with  which  she 
had  met  Mr.  Godfrey's  matrimonial  views — I  felt  the  solemn 
duty  of  interfering,  with  a  fervor  which  assure^  me  that  I 
should  achieve  no  common  results.  Rapidity  of  proceeding 
was,  as  I  believed,  of  importance  in  this  case.  I  went  back 
at  once  to  the  question  of  the  servants  wanted  for  the  fur- 
nished house. 

270 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Where  is  the  Hst,  dear?" 

Rachel  produced  it. 

"Cook,  kitchen-maid,  house-maid,  and  footman,"  I  read. 
"My  dear  Racliel,  these  servants  are  only  wanted  for  a  term 
— the  term  during  which  your  guardian  has  taken  the  house. 
We  shall  have  great  difficulty  in  finding  persons  of  character 
and  capacity  to  accept  a  temporary  engagement  of  that  sort, 
if  we  try  in  London.  Has  the  house  at  Brighton  been  found 
yet?" 

"Yes.  Godfrey  has  taken  it ;  and  persons  in  the  house 
wanted  him  to  hire  them  as  servants.  He  thought  they  would 
hardly  do  for  us,  and  came  back  having  settled  nothing." 

"And  you  have  no  experience  yourself  in  these  matters, 
Rachel?" 

"None  whatever." 

"And  Aunt  Ablewhite  won't  exert  herself?" 

"No,  poor  dear.  Don't  blame  her,  Drusilla.  I  think  she 
is  the  only  really  happy  woman  I  have  ever  met  with." 

"There  are  degrees  in  happiness,  darling.  We  must  have 
a  little  talk  some  day  on  that  subject.  In  the  mean  time  I 
will  undertake  to  meet  the  difficulty  about  the  servants.  Your 
aunt  will  write  a  letter  to  the  people  of  the  house — " 

"She  will  sign  a  letter  if  I  write  it  for  her,  which  comes  to 
the  same  thing." 

"Quite  the  same  thing.  I  shall  get  the  letter,  and  I  will 
go  to  Brighton  to-morrow." 

"How  extremely  kind  of  you !  We  will  join  you  as  soon 
as  you  are  ready  for  us.  And  you  will  stay,  I  hope,  as  my 
guest.     Brighton  is  so  lively ;  you  are  sure  to  enjoy  it." 

In  those  words  the  invitation  was  given,  and  the  glorious 
prospect  of  interference  was  opened  before  me. 

It  was  then  the  middle  of  the  week.  By  Saturday  after- 
noon the  house  was  ready  for  them.  In  that  short  interval 
I  had  sifted,  not  the  characters  only,  but  the  religious  views 
as  well,  of  all  the  disengaged  servants  who  applied  to  me, 
and  had  succeeded  in  making  a  selection  which  my  conscience 
approved.  I  also  discovered,  and  called  on,  two  serious 
friends  of  mine,  residents  in  the  town,  to  whom  I  knew  I 
could  confide  the  pious  object  which  had  brought  me  to 
Brighton.    One  of  them — a  clerical  friend — kindly  helped  me 

271 


THE  MOONSTONE 

to  take  sittings  for  our  little  party  in  the  church  in  which 
he  himself  ministered.  The  other — a  single  lady,  like  my- 
self— placed  the  resources  of  the  library,  composed  through- 
out of  precious  publications,  entirely  at  my  disposal.  I 
borrowed  half  a  dozen  works,  all  carefully  chosen  with  a  view 
to  Rachel.  When  these  had  been  judiciously  distributed  in 
the  various  rooms  she  would  be  likely  to  occupy,  I  considered 
that  my  preparations  were  complete.  Sound  doctrine  in  the 
servants  who  waited  on  her;  sound  doctrine  in  the  minister 
who  preached  to  her ;  sound  doctrine  in  the  books  that  lay 
on  the  table — such  was  the  triple  welcome  which  my  zeal  had 
prepared  for  the  motherless  girl !  A  heavenly  composure 
filled  my  mind,  on  that  Saturday  afternoon,  as  I  sat  at  the 
window  waiting  the  arrival  of  my  relatives.  The  giddy 
throng  passed  and  repassed  before  my  eyes.  Alas !  how 
many  of  them  felt  my  exquisite  sense  of  duty  done?  An 
awful  question.     Let  us  not  pursue  it. 

Between  six  and  seven  the  travelers  arrived.  To  my  in- 
describable surprise,  they  were  escorted,  not  by  Mr.  Godfrey 
(as  I  had  anticipated),  but  by  the  lawyer,  Mr.  Bruff. 

"How  do  you  do,  Miss  Clack?"  he  said.  "I  mean  to  stay 
this  time." 

That  reference  to  the  occasion  on  which  I  had  obliged  him 
to  postpone  his  business  to  mine,  when  we  were  both  visiting 
in  Montagu  Square,  satisfied  me  that  the  old  worldling  had 
come  to  Brighton  with  some  object  of  his  own  in  view.  I 
had  prepared  quite  a  little  Paradise  for  my  beloved  Rachel 
— and  here  was  the  Serpent  already ! 

"Godfrey  was  very  much  vexed,  Drusilla,  not  to  be  able 
to  come  with  us,"  said  my  aunt  Ablewhite.  "There  was 
something  in  the  way  which  kept  him  in  town.  Mr.  Brufif 
volunteered  to  take  his  place,  and  make  a  holiday  of  it  till 
Monday  morning.  By-the-bye,  Mr.  Brufif,  I'm  ordered  to  take 
exercise,  and  I  don't  like  it.  That,"  added  Aunt  Ablewhite, 
pointing  out  of  window  to  an  invalid  going  by  in  a  chair  on 
wheels,  drawn  by  a  man,  "is  my  idea  of  exercise.  If  it's  air 
you  want,  you  get  it  in  your  chair.  And  if  it's  fatigue  you 
want,  I'm  sure  it's  fatiguing  enough  to  look  at  the  man." 

Rachel  stood  silent,  at  a  window  by  herself,  with  her  eyes 
fixed  on  the  sea. 

272 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Tired,  love?"  I  inquired. 

"No.  Only  a  little  out  of  spirits,"  she  answered.  "I  have 
often  seen  the  sea,  on  our  Yorkshire  coast,  with  that  light 
on  it.  And  I  was  thinking,  Drusilla,  of  the  days  that  can 
never  come  again." 

Mr.  Bruff  remained  to  dinner,  and  stayed  through  the  even- 
ing. The  more  I  saw  of  him,  the  more  certain  I  felt  that  he 
had  some  private  end  to  serve  in  coming  to  Brighton.  I 
watched  him  carefully.  He  maintained  the  same  appearance 
of  ease,  and  talked  the  same  godless  gossip,  hour  after  hour, 
until  it  was  time  to  take  leave.  As  he  shook  hands  with 
Rachel  I  caught  his  hard  and  cunning  eye  resting  on  her  for 
a  moment  with  a  very  peculiar  interest  and  attention.  She 
was  plainly  concerned  in  the  object  that  he  had  in  view.  He 
said  nothing  out  of  the  common  to  her  or  to  any  one,  on 
leaving.  He  invited  himself  to  luncheon  the  next  day,  and 
then  he  went  away  to  his  hotel. 

It  was  impossible,  the  next  morning,  to  get  my  aunt  Able- 
white  out  of  her  dressing-gown  in  time  for  church.  Her 
invalid  daughter,  suffering  from  nothing,  in  my  opinion,  but 
incurable  laziness,  inherited  from  her  mother,  announced  that 
she  meant  to  remain  in  bed  for  the  day.  Rachel  and  I  went 
alone  together  to  church.  A  magnificent  sermon  was  preached 
by  my  gifted  friend  on  the  heathen  indifference  of  the  world 
to  the  sinfulness  of  little  sins.  For  more  than  an  hour  his 
eloquence,  assisted  by  his  glorious  voice,  thundered  through 
the  sacred  edifice.  I  said  to  Rachel,  when  we  came  out,  "Has 
it  found  its  way  to  your  heart,  dear?"  And  she  answered, 
"No ;  it  has  only  made  my  head  ache."  This  might  have 
been  discouraging  to  some  people.  But,  once  embarked  on  a 
career  of  manifest  usefulness,  nothing  discourages  me. 

We  found  Aunt  Ablewhite  and  Mr.  Bruff  at  luncheon. 
When  Rachel  declined  eating  any  thing,  and  gave  as  a  reason 
for  it  that  she  was  suffering  from  a  headache,  the  lawyer's 
cunning  instantly  saw,  and  seized,  the  chance  that  she  had 
given  him. 

"There  is  only  one  remedy  for  a  headache,"  said  this  hor- 
rible old  man.  "A  walk,  Miss  Rachel,  is  the  thing  to  cure 
you.  I  am  entirely  at  your  service,  if  you  will  honor  me  by 
accepting  my  arm."  , 

18  273 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"With  the  greatest  pl(^sure.  A  walk  is  the  very  thing  I 
was  longing  for." 

"It's  past  two,"  I  gently  suggested.  "And  the  afternoon 
service,  Rachel,  begins  at  three." 

"How  can  you  expect  me  to  go  to  church  again,"  she  asked, 
petulantly,  "with  such  a  headache  as  mine  ?" 

Mr.  Bruff  officiously  opened  the  door  for  her.  In  a  minute 
more  they  were  both  out  of  the  house.  I  don't  know  when  I 
have  felt  the  solemn  duty  of  interfering  so  strongly  as  I  felt 
it  at  that  moment.  But  what  was  to  be  done?  Nothing  was 
to  be  done  but  to  interfere,  at  the  first  opportunity,  later  in 
the  day. 

On  my  return  from  the  afternoon  service  I  found  that  they 
had  just  got  back.  One  look  at  them  told  me  that  the  lawyer 
had  said  what  he  wanted  to  say.  I  had  never  before  seen 
Rachel  so  silent  and  so  thoughtful.  I  had  never  before  seen 
Mr.  Bruff  pay  her  such  devoted  attention,  and  look  at  her 
with  such  marked  respect.  He  had,  or  pretended  that  he  had, 
an  engagement  to  dinner  that  day — and  he  took  an  early  leave 
of  us  all ;  intending  to  go  back  to  London  by  the  first  train 
the  next  morning. 

"Are  you  sure  of  your  own  resolution  ?"  he  said  to  Rachel 
at  the  door. 

"Quite  sure,"  she  answered — and  so  they  parted. 

The  moment  his  back  was  turned  Rachel  withdrew  to  her 
own  room.  She  never  appeared  at  dinner.  Her  maid,  the 
person  with  the  cap-ribbons,  was  sent  down  stairs  to  an- 
nounce that  her  headache  had  returned.  I  ran  up  to  her,  and 
made  all  sorts  of  sisterly  ofifers  through  the  door.  It  was 
locked,  and  she  kept  it  locked.  Plenty  of  obstructive  material 
to  work  on  here !  I  felt  greatly  cheered  and  stimulated  by 
her  locking  the  door. 

'\\nien  her  cup  of  tea  went  up  to  her  the  next  morning  I 
followed  it  in.  I  sat  by  her  bedside  and  said  a  few  earnest 
words.  She  listened  with  languid  civility.  I  noticed  my  seri- 
ous friend's  precious  publications  huddled  together  on  a  table 
in  a  corner.  Had  she  chanced  to  look  into  them  ? — I  asked. 
Yes — and  they  had  not  interested  her.  Would  she  allow  me 
to  read  a  few  passages,  of  the  deepest  interest,  which  had 
probably  escaped   her  eye  ?     No ;  not  now — she  had  other 

274 


THE  MOONSTONE 

things  to  think  of.  She  gave  these  answers,  with  her  atten- 
tion apparently  absorbed  in  folding  and  refolding  the  frill  of 
her  night-gown.  It  was  plainly  necessary  to  rouse  her  by 
some  reference  to  those  worldly  interests  which  she  still  had 
at  heart. 

"Do  you  know,  love,"  I  said,  "I  had  an  odd  fancy,  yester- 
day, about  Mr.  Bruff?  I  thought,  when  I  saw  you  after 
your  walk  with  him,  that  he  had  been  telling  you  some  bad 
news." 

Her  fingers  dropped  from  the  frilling  of  her  night-gown, 
and  her  fierce  black  eyes  flashed  at  me. 

"Quite  the  contrary !"  she  said.  "It  was  news  I  was  inter- 
ested in  hearing — and  I  am  deeply  indebted  to  Mr.  Bruff  for 
telling  me  of  it." 

"Yes?"  I  said,  in  a  tone  of  gentle  interest. 

Her  fingers  went  back  to  the  frilling,  and  she  turned  her 
head  sullenly  away  from  me.  I  had  been  met  in  this  manner, 
in  the  course  of  plying  the  good  work,  hundreds  of  times. 
She  merely  stimulated  me  to  try  again.  In  my  dauntless 
zeal  for  her  welfare  I  ran  the  great  risk,  and  openly  alluded 
to  her  marriage  engagement. 

"News  you  were  interested  in  hearing?"  I  repeated.  "I 
suppose,  my  dear  Rachel,  that  must  be  news  of  Mr.  Godfrey 
Ablewhitc  ?" 

She  started  up  in  the  bed  and  turned  deadly  pale.  It  was 
evidently  on  the  tip  of  her  tongue  to  retort  on  me  with  the 
unbridled  insolence  of  former  times.  She  checked  herself — 
laid  her  head  back  on  the  pillow — considered  a  minute — and 
then  answered  in  these  remarkable  words : 

"/  shall  never  marry  Mr.  Godfrey  Ablezvhite." 

It  was  my  turn  to  start  at  that. 

"What  can  you  possibly  mean  ?"  I  exclaimed.  "The  mar- 
riage is  considered  by  the  whole  family  as  a  settled  thing?" 

"Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite  is  expected  here  to-day,"  she  said, 
doggedly.     "Wait  till  he  comes — and  you  will  see." 

"But  my  dear  Rachel — " 

She  rang  the  bell  at  the  head  of  her  bed.  The  person  with 
the  cap-ribbons  appeared. 

"Penelope!  my  bath." 

Let  me  give  her  her  due.    In  the  state  of  my  mind,  at  that 

275 


THE  MOONSTONE 

moment,  I  do  sincerely  believe  that  she  had  hit  on  the  only 
possible  way  of  forcing  me  to  leave  the  room. 

By  the  mere  worldly  mind  my  position  toward  Rachel  might 
have  been  viewed  as  presenting  difficulties  of  no  ordinary 
kind.  I  had  reckoned  on  leading  her  to  higher  things,  by 
means  of  a  little  earnest  exhortation  on  the  subject  of  her 
marriage.  And  now,  if  she  was  to  be  believed,  no  such  event 
as  her  marriage  was  to  take  place  at  all.  But  ah !  my  friends ! 
a  working  Christian  of  my  experience,  with  an  evangelizing 
prospect  before  her,  takes  broader  views  than  these.  Sup- 
posing Rachel  really  broke  ofif  the  marriage  on  which  the 
Ablewhites,  father  and  son,  counted  as  a  settled  thing,  what 
would  be  the  result  ?  It  could  only  end,  if  she  held  firm,  in 
an  exchanging  of  hard  words  and  bitter  accusations  on  both 
sides.  And  what  would  be  the  effect  on  Rachel  when  the 
stormy  interview  was  over?  A  salutary  moral  depression 
would  be  the  effect.  Her  pride  would  be  exhausted,  her  stub- 
bornness would  be  exhausted,  by  the  resolute  resistance  which 
it  was  in  her  character  to  make  under  the  circumstances.  She 
would  turn  for  sympathy  to  the  nearest  person  who  had  sym- 
pathy to  offer.  And  I  was  that  nearest  person — brimful  of 
comfort,  charged  to  overflowing  with  seasonable  and  reviving 
words.  Never  had  the  evangelizing  prospect  looked  brighter, 
to  my  eyes,  than  it  looked  now. 

She  came  down  to  breakfast,  but  she  ate  nothing,  and 
hardly  uttered  a  word. 

After  breakfast  she  wandered  listlessly  from  room  to  room 
— then  suddenly  roused  herself  and  opened  the  piano.  The 
music  she  selected  to  play  was  of  the  most  scandalously  pro- 
fane sort,  associated  with  performances  on  the  stage  which 
it  curdles  one's  blood  to  think  of.  It  would  have  been  pre- 
mature to  interfere  with  her  at  such  a  time  as  this.  I  privately 
ascertained  the  hour  at  which  Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite  was 
expected,  and  then  I  escaped  the  music  by  leaving  the  house. 

Being  out  alone,  I  took  the  opportunity  of  calling  upon  my 
two  resident  friends.  It  was  an  indescribable  luxury  to  find 
myself  indulging  in  earnest  conversation  with  serious  per- 
sons. Infinitely  encouraged  and  refreshed,  I  turned  my  steps 
back  again  to  the  house,  in  excellent  time  to  await  the  arrival 
of  our  expected  visitor.     T  entered  the  dining-room,  always 

276 


THE  MOONSTONE 

empty  at  that  hour  of  the  day — and  found  myself  face  to  face 
with  Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite ! 

He  made  no  attempt  to  fly  the  place.  Quite  the  contrary. 
He  advanced  to  meet  me  with  the  utmost  eagerness. 

"Dear  Miss  Clack,  I  have  been  only  waiting  to  see  yoii! 
Chance  set  me  free  of  my  London  engagements  to-day  sooner 
than  I  expected — and  I  have  got  here,  in  consequence,  earlier 
than  my  appointed  time." 

Not  the  slightest  embarrassment  encumbered  his  explana- 
tion, though  this  was  his  first  meeting  with  me  after  the  scene 
in  Montagu  Square.  He  was  not  aware,  it  is  true,  of  my 
having  been  a  witness  to  that  scene.  But  he  knew,  on  the 
other  hand,  that  my  attendances  at  the  JMothers'-Small- 
Clothes,  and  my  relations  with  friends  attached  to  other  chari- 
ties, must  have  informed  me  of  his  shameless  neglect  of  his 
Ladies  and  his  Poor.  And  yet  there  he  was  before  me  in  full 
possession  of  his  charming  voice  and  his  irresistible  smile ! 

"Have  you  seen  Rachel  yet?"  I  asked. 

He  sighed  gently,  and  took  me  by  the  hand.  I  should 
certainly  have  snatched  my  hand  away,  if  the  manner  in 
which  he  gave  his  answer  had  not  paralyzed  me  with  aston- 
ishment. 

"I  have  seen  Rachel,"  he  said,  with  perfect  tranquillity. 
"You  are  aware,  dear  friend,  that  she  was  engaged  to  me? 
Well,  she  has  taken  a  sudden  resolution  to  break  the  engage- 
ment. Reflection  has  convinced  her  that  she  will  best  consult 
her  welfare  and  mine  by  retracting  a  rash  promise,  and  leav- 
ing me  free  to  make  some  happier  choice  elsewhere.  That  is 
the  only  reason  she  will  give,  and  the  only  answer  she  will 
make  to  every  question  that  I  can  ask  of  her." 

"What  have  you  done  on  your  side?"  I  inquired.  "Have 
you  submitted  ?" 

"Yes,"  he  said,  with  the  most  unruffled  composure.  "I  have 
submitted." 

His  conduct,  under  the  circumstances,  was  so  utterly  in- 
conceivable that  I  stood  bewildered  with  my  hand  in  his.  It 
is  a  piece  of  rudeness  to  stare  at  any  body,  and  it  is  an  act 
of  indelicacy  to  stare  at  a  gentleman.  I  committed  both  those 
improprieties.  And  I  said,  as  if  in  a  dream,  "What  does  it 
mean  ?" 

277 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Permit  me  to  tell  you,"  he  replied.  "And  suppose  we  sit 
down  ?" 

He  led  me  to  a  chair,  I  have  an  indistinct  remembrance 
that  he  was  very  affectionate.  I  don't  think  he  put  his  arm 
round  my  waist  to  support  me — but  I  am  not  sure.  I  was 
quite  helpless,  and  his  ways  with  ladies  were  very  endearing. 
At  any  rate,  we  sat  down.  I  can  answer  for  that,  if  I  can 
answer  for  nothing  more. 

"I  have  lost  a  beautiful  girl,  an  excellent  social  position, 
and  a  handsome  income,"  Mr.  Godfrey  began ;  "and  I  have 
submitted  to  it  without  a  struggle.  What  can  be  the  motive 
for  such  extraordinary  conduct  as  that?  My  precious  friend, 
there  is  no  motive." 

"No  motive?"  I  repeated. 

"Let  me  appeal,  dear  Miss  Clack,  to  your  experience  of 
children,"  he  went  on.  "A  child  pursues  a  certain  course  of 
conduct.  You  are  greatly  struck  by  it,  and  you  attempt  to 
get  at  the  motive.  The  dear  little  thing  is  incapable  of  telling 
you  its  motive.  You  might  as  well  ask  the  grass  why  it 
grows,  or  the  birds  why  they  sing.  Well !  in  this  matter  I 
am  like  the  dear  little  thing — like  the  grass — like  the  birds. 
I  don't  know  why  I  made  a  proposal  of  marriage  to  Miss  Ver- 
inder.  I  don't  know  why  I  have  shamefully  neglected  my 
dear  ladies.  I  don't  know  why  I  have  apostatized  from  the 
Mothers'-Small-Clothes.  You  say  to  the  child,  'Why  have 
you  been  naughty?'  And  the  little  angel  puts  its  finger  into 
its  mouth,  and  doesn't  know.  My  case  exactly,  Miss  Clack ! 
I  couldn't  confess  it  to  any  body  else.  I  feel  impelled  to 
confess  it  to  you!" 

I  began  to  recover  myself.  A  mental  problem  was  involved 
here.  I  am  deeply  interested  in  mental  problems — and  I  am 
not,  it  is  thought,  without  some  skill  in  solving  them. 

"Best  of  friends,  exert  your  intellect  and  help  me,"  he  pro- 
ceeded. "Tell  me — why  does  a  time  come  when  these  mat- 
rimonial proceedings  of  mine  begin  to  look  like  something 
done  in  a  dream  ?  Why  does  it  suddenly  occur  to  me  that  my 
true  happiness  is  in  helping  my  dear  ladies,  in  going  my  mod- 
est round  of  useful  work,  in  saying  my  few  earnest  words 
when  called  on  by  my  Chairman?  What  do  I  want  with  a 
position  ?     I  have  got  a  position.     What  do  I  want  with  an 

278 


THE  MOONSTONE 

income?  I  can  pay  for  my  bread-and-cheese,  and  my  nice 
little  lodging,  and  my  two  coats  a  year.  What  do  I  want  with 
Miss  Verinder?  She  has  told  me  with  her  own  lips,  this, 
dear  lady,  is  between  ourselves,  that  she  loves  another  man, 
and  that  her  only  idea  in  marrying  me  is  to  try  and  put  that 
other  man  out  of  her  head.  What  a  horrid  union  is  this ! 
Oh,  dear  me,  what  a  horrid  union  is  this !  Such  are  my  re- 
flections, Miss  Clack,  on  my  way  to  Brighton !  I  approach 
Rachel  with  the  feeling  of  a  criminal  who  is  going  to  receive 
his  sentence.  When  I  find  that  she  has  changed  her  mind  too 
— when  I  hear  her  propose  to  break  the  engagement — I  ex- 
perience, there  is  no  sort  of  doubt  about  it,  a  most  overpower- 
ing sense  of  relief.  A  month  ago  I  was  pressing  her 
rapturously  to  my  bosom.  An  hour  ago  the  happiness  of 
knowing  that  I  shall  never  press  her  again  intoxicates  me 
like  strong  liquor.  The  thing  seems  impossible — the  thing 
can't  be.  And  yet  there  are  the  facts,  as  I  had  the  honor  of 
stating  them  when  we  first  sat  down  together  in  these  two 
chairs.  I  have  lost  a  beautiful  girl,  an  excellent  social  posi- 
tion, and  a  handsome  income ;  and  I  have  submitted  to  it 
without  a  struggle.  Can  you  account  for  it,  dear  friend? 
It's  quite  beyond  me." 

His  magnificent  head  sank  on  his  breast,  and  he  gave  up 
his  own  mental  problem  in  despair. 

I  was  deeply  touched.  The  case,  if  I  may  speak  as  a  spiri- 
tual physician,  was  now  quite  plain  to  me.  It  is  no  uncommon 
event,  in  the  experience  of  us  all,  to  see  the  possessors  of 
exalted  ability  occasionally  humbled  to  the  level  of  the  most 
poorly-gifted  people  about  them.  The  object,  no  doubt,  in 
the  wise  economy  of  Providence,  is  to  remind  greatness  that 
it  is  mortal,  and  that  the  power  which  has  conferred  it  can 
also  take  it  away.  It  was  now — to  my  mind — easy  to  discern 
one  of  thes^  salutary  humiliations  in  the  deplorable  proceed- 
ings on  dear  Mr.  Godfrey's  part,  of  which  I  had  been  the 
unseen  witness.  And  it  was  equally  easy  to  recognize  the 
welcome  re-appearance  of  his  own  finer  nature  in  the  horror 
with  which  he  recoiled  from  the  idea  of  a  marriage  with 
Rachel,  and  in  the  charming  eagerness  which  he  showed  to 
return  to  his  ladies  and  his  poor. 

I  put  this  view  before  him   in  a  few  simple  and  sisterly' 

279 


THE  MOONSTONE 

words.  His  joy  was  beautiful  to  see.  He  compared  himself, 
as  I  went  on,  to  a  lost  man  emerging  from  the  darkness  into 
the  light.  When  I  answered  for  a  loving  reception  of  him  at 
the  Mothers'-Small-Clothes,  the  grateful  heart  of  our  Chris- 
tian Hero  overflowed.  He  pressed  my  hands  alternately  to 
his  lips.  Overwhelmed  by  the  exquisite  triumph  of  having 
got  him  back  among  us,  I  let  him  do  what  he  liked  with  my 
hands.  I  closed  my  eyes.  I  felt  my  head,  in  an  ecstasy  of 
spiritual  self-forgetfulness,  sinking  on  his  shoulder.  In  a 
moment  more  I  should  certainly  have  swooned  away  in  his 
arms,  but  for  an  interruption  from  the  outer  world,  which 
brought  me  to  myself  again.  A  horrid  rattling  of  knives 
and  forks  sounded  outside  the  door,  and  the  footman  came  in 
to  lay  the  table  for  luncheon. 

Mr.  Godfrey  started  up,  and  looked  at  the  clock  on  the 
mantel-piece. 

"How  time  flies  with  you !"  he  exclaimed.  'T  shall  barely 
catch  the  train." 

I  ventured  on  asking  why  he  was  in  such  a  hurry  to  get 
back  to  town.  His  answer  reminded  me  of  family  difficulties 
that  were  still  to  be  reconciled,  and  of  family  disagreements 
that  were  yet  to  come. 

"I  have  heard  from  my  father,"  he  said.  "Business  obliges 
him  to  leave  Frizinghall  for  London  to-day,  and  he  proposes 
coming  on  here  either  this  evening  or  to-morrow.  I  must 
tell  him  what  has  happened  between  Rachel  and  me.  His 
heart  is  set  on  our  marriage — there  will  be  great  difificulty, 
I  fear,  in  reconciling  him  to  the  breaking-ofif  of  the  engage- 
ment. I  must  stop  him,  for  all  our  sakes,  from  coming  here 
till  he  is  reconciled.  Best  and  dearest  of  friends,  we  shall 
meet  again !" 

With  those  words  he  hurried  out.  In  equal  haste  on  my 
side,  I  ran  up  stairs  to  compose  myself  in  my  own  room  be- 
fore meeting  Aunt  Ablewhite  and  Rachel  at  the  luncheon- 
table. 

I  am  well  aware — to  dwell  for  a  moment  yet  on  the  sub- 
ject of  Mr.  Godfrey — that  the  all-profaning  opinion  of  the 
outer  world  has  charged  him  with  having  his  own  private 
reasons  for  releasing  Rachel  from  her  engagement,  at  the 
first  opportunity  she  gave  him.     It  has  also  reached  my  ears 

380 


THE  MOONSTONE 

that  his  anxiety  to  recover  his  place  in  my  estimation  has 
been  attributed,  in  certain  quarters,  to  a  mercenary  eagerness 
to  make  his  peace,  through  me,  with  a  venerable  committee- 
woman  at  the  Mothers'-Small-Clothes,  abundantly  blessed 
with  the  goods  of  this  world,  and  a  beloved  and  intimate 
friend  of  my  own.  I  only  notice  these  odious  slanders  for 
the  sake  of  declaring  that  they  never  had  a  moment's  influ- 
ence on  my  mind.  In  obedience  to  my  instructions,  I  have 
exhibited  the  fluctuations  in  my  opinion  of  our  Christian  Hero 
exactly  as  I  find  them  recorded  in  my  diary.  In  justice  to 
myself,  let  me  here  add  that,  once  reinstated  in  his  place  in  my 
estimation,  my  gifted  friend  never  lost  that  place  again.  I 
write  with  the  tears  in  my  eyes,  burning  to  say  more.  But 
no — I  am  cruelly  limited  to  my  actual  experience  of  persons 
and  things.  In  less  than  a  month  from  the  time  of  which 
I  am  now  writing  events  in  the  money-market,  which  dimin- 
ished even  my  miserable  little  income,  forced  me  into  foreign 
exile,  and  left  me  with  nothing  but  a  loving  remembrance 
of  Mr.  Godfrey  which  the  slander  of  the  world  has  assailed, 
and  assailed  in  vain. 

Let  me  dry  my  eyes,  and  return  to  my  narrative. 

I  WENT  down  stairs  to  luncheon,  naturally  anxious  to  see  how 
Rachel  was  afifected  by  her  release  from  her  marriage  engage- 
ment. 

It  appeared  to  me — but  I  own  I  am  a  poor  authority  in 
such  matters — that  the  recovery  of  her  freedom  had  set  her 
thinking  again  of  that  other  man  whom  she  loved,  and  that 
she  was  furious  with  herself  for  not  being  able  to  control  a 
revulsion  of  feeling  of  which  she  was  secretly  ashamed.  Who 
was  the  man  ?  I  had  my  suspicions — but  it  was  needless  to 
waste  time  in  idle  speculation.  When  I  had  converted  her, 
she  would,  as  a  matter  of  course,  have  no  concealments  from 
me.  I  should  hear  all  about  the  man  ;  I  should  hear  all  about 
the  Moonstone.  If  I  had  had  no  higher  object  in  stirring 
her  up  to  a  sense  of  spiritual  things,  the  motive  of  relieving 
her  mind  of  its  guilty  secrets  would  have  been  enough  of 
itself  to  encourage  me  to  go  on. 

Aunt  Ablewhite  took  her  exercise  in  the  afternoon  in  an 
invalid   chair.     Rachel   accompanied   her,      "I   wish   I   could 

381 


THE  MOONSTONE 

drag  the  chair,"  she  broke  out,  recklessly.     "I  wish  I  could 
fatigue  myself  till  I  was  ready  to  drop !" 

She  was  in  the  same  humor  in  the  evening.  I  discovered 
in  one  of  my  friend's  precious  publications — The  Life,  Let- 
ters, and  Labors  of  Miss  Jane  Ann  Stamper,  forty-fifth  edi- 
tion— passages  which  bore  with  a  marvelous  appropriateness 
on  Rachel's  present  position.  Upon  my  proposing  to  read 
them  she  went  to  the  piano.  Conceive  how  little  she  must 
have  known  of  serious  people,  if  she  supposed  that  my  pa- 
tience was  to  be  exhausted  in  that  way !  I  kept  Miss  Jane 
Ann  Stamper  by  me,  and  waited  for  events  with  the  most 
unfaltering  trust  in  the  future. 

Old  Mt.  Ablewhite  never  made  his  appearance  that  night. 
But  I  knew  the  importance  which  his  worldly  greed  attached 
to  his  son's  marriage  with  Miss  Verinder — and  I  felt  a  posi- 
tive conviction,  do  what  Mr.  Godfrey  might  to  prevent  it, 
that  we  should  see  him  the  next  day.  With  his  interference 
in  the  matter,  the  storm  on  which  I  had  counted  would  cer- 
tainly come,  and  the  salutary  exhaustion  of  Rachel's  resisting 
powers  would  as  certainly  follow.  I  am  not  ignorant  that 
old  Mr.  Ablewhite  has  the  reputation  generally,  especially 
among  his  inferiors,  of  being  a  remarkably  good-natured 
man.  According  to  my  observation  of  him,  he  deserves  his 
reputation  as  long  as  he  has  his  own  way,  and  not  a  moment 
longer. 

The  next  day,  exactly  as  I  had  foreseen.  Aunt  Ablewhite 
was  as  near  to  being  astonished  as  her  nature  would  permit, 
by  the  sudden  appearance  of  her  husband.  He  had  barely 
been  a  minute  in  the  house  before  he  was  followed,  to  my 
astonishment  this  time,  by  an  unexpected  complication  in  the 
shape  of  Mr.  Brufif. 

I  never  remember  feeling  the  presence  of  the  lawyer  to  be 
more  unwelcome  than  I  felt  it  at  that  moment.  He  looked 
ready  for  any  thing  in  the  way  of  an  obstructive  proceeding 
— capable  even  of  keeping  the  peace,  with  Rachel  for  one  of 
the  combatants ! 

"This  is  a  pleasant  surprise,  sir,"  said  Mr.  Ablewhite,  ad- 
dressing himself  with  his  deceptive  cordiality  to  Mr.  Brufif. 
''When  I  left  your  office  yesterday,  I  didn't  expect  to  have 
the  honor  of  seeing  you  at  Brighton  to-day." 

283  * 


•THE  MOONSTONE 

'T  turned  over  our  conversation  in  my  mind,  after  you  had 
gone,"  replied  Mr.  Bruff.  "And  it  occurred  to  me  that  I 
might  perhaps  be  of  some  use  on  this  occasion.  I  was  just 
in  time  to  catch  the  train,  and  I  had  no  opportunity  of  dis- 
covering the  carriage  in  which  you  were  travehng." 

Having  given  that  explanation  he  seated  himself  by  Rachel. 
I  retired  modestly  to  a  corner — with  Miss  Jane  Ann  Stamper 
on  my  lap  in  case  of  emergency.  My  aunt  sat  at  the  win- 
dow, placidly  fanning  herself  as  usual.  Mr.  Ablewhite  stood 
up  in  the  middle  of  the  room,  with  his  bald  head  much  pinker 
than  I  had  ever  seen  it  yet,  and  addressed  himself  in  the  most 
affectionate  manner  to  his  niece. 

"Rachel,  my  dear,"  he  said,  "I  have  heard  some  very  ex- 
traordinary news  from  Godfrey.  And  I  am  here  to  inquire 
about  it.  You  have  a  sitting-room  of  your  own  in  this  house. 
Will  you  honor  me  by  showing  me  the  way  to  it?" 

Rachel  never  moved.  Whether  she  was  determined  to 
bring  matters  to  a  crisis,  or  whether  she  was  prompted  by 
some  private  sign  from  Mr.  Bruff,  is  more  than  I  can  tell. 
She  declined  doing  old  Mr.  Ablewhite  the  honor  of  conduct- 
ing him  to  her  sitting-room. 

"Whatever  you  wish  to  say  to  me,"  she  answered,  "can  be 
said  here — in  the  presence  of  my  relatives,  and  in  the  pres- 
ence," she  looked  at  ]\Ir.  Bruff,  "of  my  mother's  trusted  old 
friend." 

"Just  as  you  please,  my  dear,"  said  the  amiable  Mr.  Able- 
white.  He  took  a  chair.  The  rest  of  them  looked  at  his  face 
— as  if  they  expected  it,  after  seventy  years  of  worldly  train- 
ing, to  speak  the  truth.  /  looked  at  the  top  of  his  bald 
head ;  having  noticed,  on  other  occasions,  that  the  tem- 
per which  was  really  in  him  had  a  habit  of  registering  it- 
self there. 

"Some  weeks  ago,"  pursued  the  old  gentleman,  "my  son 
informed  me  that  Miss  Verinder  had  done  him  the  honor  to 
engage  herself  to  marry  him.  Is  it  possible,  Rachel,  that  he 
can  have  misinterpreted — or  presumed  upon — what  you  reall}^ 
said  to  him?" 

"Certainly  not,"  she  replied.  "I  did  engage  myself  to 
marry  him." 

"Very  frankly  answered !"  said  IMr.  Ablewhite.    "And  most 

283 


THE  MOONSTONE 

satisfactory,  my  dear,  so  far.  In  respect  to  what  happened 
some  weeks  since,  Godfrey  has  made  no  mistake.  The  error 
is  evidently  in  what  he  told  me  yesterday.  I  begin  to  see  it 
now.  You  and  he  have  had  a  lovers'  quarrel — and  my  foolish 
son  has  interpreted  it  seriously.  Ah !  I  should  have  known 
better  than  that,  at  his  age." 

The  fallen  nature  in  Rachel — the  mother  Eve,  so  to  speak 
— began  to  chafe  at  this. 

"Pray  let  us  understand  each  other,  Mr.  Ablewhite,"  she 
said.  "Nothing  in  the  least  like  a  quarrel  took  place  yester- 
day between  your  son  and  me.  If  he  told  you  that  I  proposed 
breaking  ofif  our  marriage  engagement,  and  that  he  agreed  on 
his  side — he  told  you  the  truth." 

The  self-registering  thermometer  at  the  top  of  Mr.  Able- 
white's  bald  head  began  to  indicate  a  rise  of  temper.  His 
face  was  more  amiable  than  ever — but  there  was  the  pink  at 
the  top  of  his  face,  a  shade  deeper  already ! 

"Come,  come,  my  dear !"  he  said,  in  his  most  soothing  man- 
ner, "now  don't  be  angry,  and  don't  be  hard  on  poor  Godfrey ! 
He  has  evidently  said  some  unfortunate  thing.  He  was 
always  clumsy  from  a  child — but  he  means  well,  Rachel,  he 
means  well !" 

"Mr.  Ablewhite,  I  have  either  expressed  myself  very  badly, 
or  you  are  purposely  mistaking  me.  Once  for  all,  it  is  a 
settled  thing  between  your  son  and  myself  that  we  remain, 
for  the  rest  of  our  lives,  cousins  and  nothing  more.  Is  that 
plain  enough?" 

The  tone  in  which  she  said  those  words  made  it  impossible, 
even  for  old  Mr.  Ablewhite,  to  mistake  her  any  longer.  His 
thermometer  went  up  another  degree,  and  his  voice,  when  he 
next  spoke,  ceased  to  be  the  voice  which  is  appropriate  to  a 
notoriously  good-natured  man. 

"I  am  to  understand,  then,"  he  said,  "that  your  marriage 
engagement  is  broken  of??" 

"You  are  to  understand  that,  Mr.  Ablewhite,  if  you  please." 

"I  am  also  to  take  it  as  a  matter  of  fact  that  the  proposal 
to  withdraw  from  the  engagement  came,  in  the  first  instance, 
from  yoitf" 

"It  came,  in  the  first  instance,  from  me.  And  it  met,  as  I 
have  told  you,  with  your  son's  consent  and  approval." 

V  284 


THE  MOONSTONE 

The  thermometer  went  up  to  the  top  of  the  register.  I 
mean,  the  pink  changed  suddenly  to  scarlet. 

"My  son  is  a  mean-spirited  hound !"  cried  this  furious  old 
worldling.  "In  justice  to  myself  as  his  father — not  in  justice 
to  him — I  beg  to  ask  you,  Miss  Verinder,  what  complaint 
you  have  to  make  of  Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite?" 

Here  Mr.  Brufif  interfered  for  the  first  time. 

"You  are  not  bound  to  answer  that  question,"  he  said  to 
Rachel. 

Old  Mr.  Ablewhite  fastened  on  him  instantly. 

"Don't  forget,  sir,"  he  said,  "that  you  are  a  self-invited 
guest  here.  Your  interference  would  have  come  with  a  bet- 
ter grace  if  you  had  waited  until  it  was  asked  for." 

Mr.  Bruff  took  no  notice.  The  smooth  varnish  •  on  his 
wicked  old  face  never  cracked.  Rachel  thanked  him  for  the 
advice  he  had  given  to  her,  and  then  turned  to  old  Mr.  Able- 
white — preserving  her  composure  in  a  manner  which,  having 
regard  to  her  age  and  her  sex,  was  simply  awful  to  see. 

"Your  son  put  the  same  question  to  me  which  you  have 
just  asked,"  she  said.  "I  had  only  one  answer  for  him,  and 
I  have  only  one  answer  for  you.  I  proposed  that  we  should 
release  each  other,  because  reflection  had  convinced  me  that 
T  should  best  consult  his  welfare  and  mine  by  retracting  a 
rash  promise,  and  leaving  him  free  to  make  his  choice  else- 
where." 

"What  has  my  son  done?"  persisted  Mr.  Ablewhite.  "I 
have  a  right  to  know  that.    What  has  my  son  done  ?" 

She  persisted  just  as  obstinately  on  her  side. 

"You  have  had  the  only  explanation  which  I  think  it  neces- 
sary to  give  to  you,  or  to  him,"  she  answered. 

"In  plain  English,  it's  your  sovereign  will  and  pleasure. 
Miss  Verinder,  to  jilt  my  son  ?" 

Rachel  was  silent  for  a  moment.  Sitting  close  behind  her, 
I  heard  her  sigh.  Mr.  Bruff  took  her  hand,  and  gave  it  a  lit- 
tle squeeze.  She  recovered  herself,  and  answered  Mr.  Able- 
white  as  boldly  as  ever. 

"I  have  exposed  myself  to  worse  misconstruction  than 
that,"  she  said.  "x\nd  I  have  borne  it  patiently.  The  time 
has  gone  by  when  vou  could  mortifv  me  bv  calling  me  a 
jilt." 

285 


THE  MOONSTONE 

She  spoke  with  a  bitterness  of  tone  which  satisfied  me  that 
the  scandal  of  the  Moonstone  had  been  in  some  way  recalled 
to  her  mind.  "I  have  no  more  to  say,"  she  added,  wearily, 
not  addressing  the  words  to  any  one  in  particular,  and  look- 
ing away  from  us  all,  out  of  the  window  that  was  nearest  to 
her. 

Mr.  Ablewhite  got  upon  his  feet,  and  pushed  away  his 
chair  so  violently  that  it  toppled  over  and  fell  on  the  floor. 

"I  have  something  more  to  say  on  my  side,"  he  announced, 
bringing  down  the  flat  of  his  hand  on  the  table  with  a  bang. 
"I  have  to  say  that  if  my  son  doesn't  feel  this  insult  I  do !" 

Rachel  started,  and  looked  at  him  in  sudden  surprise. 

"Insult?"  she  repeated.     "What  do  you  mean?" 

"Insl-ilt !"  reiterated  Mr.  Ablewhite.  "I  know  your  motive. 
Miss  Verinder,  for  breaking  your  promise  to  my  son !  I 
know  it  as  certainly  as  if  you  had  confessed  it  in  so  many 
words.  Your  cursed  family  pride  is  insulting  Godfrey,  as  it 
insulted  jne  when  I  married  your  aunt.  Her  famil}' — her 
beggarly  family — turned  their  backs  on  her  for  marrying  an 
honest  man,  who  had  made  his  own  place  and  won  his  own 
fortune.  I  had  no  ancestors.  I  wasn't  descended  from  a  set 
of  cut-throat  scoundrels  who  lived  by  robbery  and  murder. 
I  couldn't  point  to  the  time  when  the  Able  whites  hadn't  a 
shirt  to  their  backs,  and  couldn't  sign  their  own  names.  Ha ! 
ha !  I  wasn't  good  enough  for  the  Herncastles,  when  /  mar- 
ried. And,  now  it  comes  to  the  pinch,  my  son  isn't  good 
enough  for  yon.  I  suspected  it  all  along.  You  have  got  the 
Herncastle  blood  in  you,  my  young  lady !  I  suspected  it  all 
along." 

"A  very  unworthy  suspicion,"  remarked  Mr.  Bruff.     "I  am 
astonished  that  you  have  the  courage  to  acknowledge  it." 
.   Before  Mr.  Ablewhite  could  find  words  to  answer,  Rachel 
spoke  in  the  tone  of  the  most  exasperating  contempt. 

"Surely,"  she  said  to  the  lawyer,  "this  is  beneath  notice. 
If  he  can  think  in  that  way,  let  us  leave  him  to  think  as  he 
pleases." 

From  scarlet  Mr.  Ablewhite  was  now  becoming  purple. 
He  gasped  for  breath ;  he  looked  backward  and  forward  from 
Rachel  to  Mr.  Bruff  in  such  a  frenzy  of  rage  with  both  of 
them  that  he  didn't  know  which  to  attack  first.     His  wife, 

286 


THE  MOONSTONE 

who  had  sat  impenetrably  fanning  herself  up  to  this  time, 
began  to  be  alarmed,  and  attempted,  quite  uselessly,  to  quiet 
him.  I  had,  throughout  this  distressing  interview,  felt  more 
than  one  inward  call  to  interfere  with  a  few  earnest  words, 
and  had  controlled  myself  under  a  dread  of  the  possible  re- 
sults, very  unworthy  of  a  Christian  Englishwoman  who  looks, 
not  to  what  is  meanly  prudent,  but  to  what  is  morally  right. 
At  the  point  at  which  matters  had  now  arrived  I  rose  superior 
to  all  considerations  of  mere  expediency.  If  I  had  contem- 
plated interposing  any  remonstrance  of  my  own  humble  de- 
vising, I  might  possibly  still  have  hesitated.  But  the  dis- 
tressing domestic  emergency  which  now  confronted  me  was 
most  marvelously  and  beautifully  provided  for  in  the  Corre- 
spondence of  Miss  Jane  Ann  Stamper — Letter  one  thousand 
and  one,  on  "Peace  in  Families."  I  rose  in  my  modest  corner, 
and  I  opened  my  precious  book. 

"Dear  Mr.  Ablewhite,"  I  said,  "one  word !" 

When  I  first  attracted  the  attention  of  the  company  by 
rising,  I  could  see  that  he  was  on  the  point  of  saying  some- 
thing rude  to  me.  My  sisterly  form  of  address  checked  him. 
He  stared  in  heathen  astonishment. 

"As  an  affectionate  well-wisher  and  friend,"  I  proceeded, 
"and  as  one  long  accustomed  to  arouse,  convince,  prepare, 
enlighten,  and  fortify  others,  permit  mie  to  take  the  most 
pardonable  of  all  liberties — the  liberty  of  composing  your 
mind." 

He  began  to  recover  himself;  he  was  on  the  point  of 
breaking  out — he  would  have  broken  out,  with  any  body  else. 
r)Ut  my  voice,  habitually  gentle,  possesses  a  high  note  or  so. 
in  emergencies.  In  this  emergency  I  felt  imperatively  called 
upon  to  have  the  highest  voice  of  the  two. 

I  held  up  my  precious  book  before  him ;  I  rapped  the  open 
page  impressively  with  my  forefinger.  "Not  ray  words !" 
I  exclaimed,  in  a  burst  of  fervent  interruption.  Oh,  don't 
suppose  that  I  claim  attention  for  my  humble  words !  Manna 
in  the  wilderness,  Mr.  Ablewhite !  Dew  on  the  parched 
earth !  Words  of  comfort,  words  of  wisdom,  words  of 
love — the  blessed,  blessed,  blessed  words  of  Miss  Jane  Ann 
Stamper!" 

I  was  stopped  there  by  a  momentary  impediment  of  the 

287 


THE  MOONSTONE 

breath.  Before  I  could  recover  myself,  this  monster  in  human 
form  shouted  out  furiously  : 

"Miss  Jane  Ann  Stamper  be  !" 

It  is  impossible  for  me  to  write  the  awful  word  which  is 
here  represented  by  a  blank.  I  shrieked  as  it  passed  his  lips ; 
I  flew  to  my  little  bag  on  the  side-table ;  I  shook  out  all  my 
tracts ;  I  seized  the  one  particular  tract  on  profane  swearing, 
entitled,  "Hush,  for  Heaven's  Sake!"  I  handed  it  to  him 
with  an  expression  of  agonized  entreaty.  He  tore  it  in  two, 
and  threw  it  back  at  me  across  the  table.  The  rest  of  them 
rose  in  alarm,  not  knowing  what  might  happen  next.  I  in- 
stantly sat  down  again  in  my  corner.  There  had  once  been 
an  occasion,  under  somewhat  similar  circumstances,  when 
Miss  Jane  Ann  Stamper  had  been  taken  by  the  two  shoul- 
ders and  turned  out  of  a  room.  I  waited,  inspired  by  her 
spirit,  for  a  repetition  of  her  martyrdom. 

But  no — it  was  not  to  be.  His  wife  was  the  next  person 
whom  he  addressed.  "Who — who — who,"  he  said,  stammer- 
ing with  rage,  "asked  this  impudent  fanatic  into  the  house? 
Did  you?" 

Before  Aunt  Ablewhite  could  say  a  word,  Rachel  answered 
for  her : 

"Miss  Clack  is  here,"  she  said,  "as  my  guest." 

Those  words  had  a  singular  effect  on  Mr.  Ablewhite.  They 
suddenly  changed  him  from  a  man  in  a  state  of  red-hot  anger 
to  a  man  in  a  state  of  icy-cold  contempt.  It  was  plain  to 
every  body  that  Rachel  had  said  something — short  and  plain 
as  her  answer  had  been — which  gave  him  the  uppfer  hand  of 
her  at  last. 

"Oh !"  he  said.  "Miss  Clack  is  here  as  your  guest — in  my 
house  ?" 

It  was  Rachel's  turn  to  lose  her  temper  at  that.  Her  color 
rose,  and  her  eyes  brightened  fiercely.  She  turned  to  the 
lawyer,  and,  pointing  at  Mr.  Ablewhite,  asked,  haughtily, 
"What  does  he  mean?" 

Mr.  Brufif  interfered  for  the  third  time. 

"You  appear  to  forget,"  he  said,  addressing  Mr.  Able- 
white,  "that  you  took  this  house  as  Miss  Verinder's  guardian, 
for  Miss  Verinder's  use." 

"Not  quite  so  fast,"  interposed  Air.  Ablewhite.     "I  have 

28S 


THE  MOONSTONE 

a  last  word  to  say,  which  I  should  have  said  some  time  since, 
if  this — "  He  looked  my  way,  pondering  what  abominable 
name  he  should  call  me — "if  this  Rampant  Spinster  had  not 
interrupted  us.  I  beg  to  inform  you,  sir,  that,  if  my  son  is 
not  good  enough  to  be  Miss  Verinder's  husband,  I  can  not 
presume  to  consider  his  father  good  enough  to  be  Miss  Verin- 
der's guardian.  Understand,  if  you  please,  that  I  refuse  to 
accept  the  position  which  is  offered  to  me  by  Lady  Verinder's 
will.  In  your  legal  phrase,  I  decline  to  act.  This  house  has 
necessarily  been  hired  in  my  name.  I  take  the  entire  respon- 
sibility of  it  on  my  shoulders.  It  is  my  house.  I  can  keep 
it,  or  let  it,  just  as  I  please.  I  have  no  wish  to  hurry  Miss 
Verinder.  On  the  contrary,  I  beg  her  to  remove  her  guest 
and  her  luggage,  at  her  own  entire  convenience."  He  made 
a  low  bow,  and  walked  out  of  the  room. 

That  was  Mr.  Ablewhite's  revenge  on  Rachel  for  refusing 
to  marry  his  son ! 

The  instant  the  door  closed  Aunt  Ablewhite  exhibited  a 
phenomenon  which  silenced  us  all.  She  became  endowed  with 
energy  enough  to  cross  the  room ! 

"My  dear,"  she  said,  taking  Rachel  by  the  hand,  "I  should 
be  ashamed  of  my  husband,  if  I  didn't  know  that  it  is  his 
temper  which  has  spoken  to  you,  and  not  himself.  You." 
continued  Aunt  Ablewhite,  turning  on  me  in  my  corner  with 
another  endowment  of  energy,  in  her  looks  this  time  instead 
of  her  limbs — "you  are  the  mischievous  person  who  irritated 
him.  I  hope  I  shall  never  see  you  or  your  tracts  again."  She 
Avent  back  to  Rachel,  and  kissed  her.  "I  beg  your  pardon. 
mv  dear,"  she  said,  "in  my  husband's  name.  What  can  I  do 
for  you?" 

Consistently  perverse  in  every  thing — capricious  and  un- 
reasonable in  all  the  actions  of  her  life — Rachel  melted  into 
tears  at  those  commonplace  words,  and  returned  her  aunt's 
kiss  in  silence. 

"If  I  may  be  permitted  to  answer  for  ]\Iiss  Verinder,"  said 
Mr.  Bruff,  "might  I  ask  you,  Mrs.  Ablewhite,  to  send  Penel- 
ope down  with  her  mistress's  bonnet  and  shawl.  Leave  us 
ten  minutes  together,"  he  added,  in  a  lower  tone,  "and  you 
may  rely  on  my  setting  matters  right,  to  your  satisfaction  as 
well  <ns  to  Rachel's." 

19  289 


THE  MOONSTONE 

The  trust  of  the  family  in  this  man  was  something  wonder- 
ful to  see.  Without  a  word  more,  on  her  side,  Aunt  Able- 
white  left  the  room. 

"Ah !"  said  Mr.  Bruff,  looking  after  her.  "The  Herncastle 
blood  has  its  drawbacks,  I  admit.  But  there  is  something  in 
good-breeding,  after  all !" 

Having  made  that  purely  worldly  remark,  he  looked  hard 
at  my  corner,  as  if  he  expected  me  to  go.  My  interest  in 
Rachel — an  infinitely  higher  interest  than  his — riveted  me  to 
my  chair. 

Mr.  Bruff  gave  it  up,  exactly  as  he  had  given  it  up  at 
Aunt  Verinder's,  in  Montagu  Square.  He  led  Rachel  to  a 
chair  by  the  window,  and  spoke  to  her  there. 

"My  dear  young  lady,"  he  said,  "Mr.  Ablewhite's  conduct 
has  naturally  shocked  you,  and  taken  you  by  surprise.  If  it 
was  worth  while  to  contest  the  question  with  such  a  man,  we 
might  soon  show  him  that  he  is  not  to  have  things  all  his 
own  way.  But  it  isn't  worth  while.  You  were  quite  right  in 
what  you  said  just  now ;  he  is  beneath  our  notice." 

He  stopped,  and  looked  round  at  my  corner.  I  sat  there 
quite  immovable,  with  my  tracts  at  my  elbow,  and  with  Miss 
Jane  Ann  Stamper  on  my  lap. 

"You  know,"  he  resumed,  turning  back  again  to  Rachel, 
"that  it  was  part  of  your  poor  mother's  fine  nature  always 
to  see  the  best  of  the  people  about  her,  and  never  the  worst. 
She  named  her  brother-in-law  your  guardian  because  she  be- 
lieved in  him,  and  because  she  thought  it  would  please  her 
sister.  I  had  never  liked  Mr.  Ablewhite  myself,  and  I  induced 
your  mother  to  let  me  insert  a  clause  in  the  will  empowering 
her  executors,  in  certain  events,  to  consult  with  me  about 
the  appointment  of  a  new  guardian.  One  of  those  events  has 
happened  to-day ;  and  I  find  myself  in  a  position  to  end  all 
these  dry  business  details,  I  hope  agreeably,  with  a  message 
from  my  wife.  Will  you  honor  Mrs.  Bruflf  by  becoming  her 
guest?  And  will  you  remain  under  my  roof,  and  be  one  of 
my  family,  until  we  wise  people  have  laid  our  heads  together, 
and  have  settled  what  is  to  be  done  next?" 

At  those  words  I  rose  to  interfere.  Mr.  Bruff  had  done 
exactly  what  I  had  dreaded  he  would  do,  when,  he  asked  ]\lrs. 
Ablewhite  for  Rachel's  bonnet  and  shawl. 

2qo 


THE  MOONSTONE 

Before  I  could  interpose  a  word  Rachel  had  accepted  his 
invitation  in  the  warmest  terms.  If  I  suffered  the  arrange- 
ment thus  made  between  them  to  be  carried  out — if  she  once 
passed  the  threshold  of  Mr.  Bruff's  door — farewell  to  the 
fondest  hope  of  my  life,  the  hope  of  bringing  my  lost  sheep 
back  to  the  fold !  The  bare  idea  of  such  a  calamity  as  this 
quite  overwhelmed  me.  I  cast  the  miserable  trammels  of 
worldly  discretion  to  the  winds,  and  spoke  with  the  fervor 
that  filled  me,  in  the  words  that  came  first. 

"Stop  !"  I  said — "stop  !  I  must  be  heard.  Mr.  Bruff !  you 
are  not  related  to  her,  and  I  am.  /  invite  her — I  summon 
the  executors  to  appoint  iiic  guardian.  Rachel,  dearest 
Rachel,  I  offer  you  my  modest  home ;  come  to  London  by  the 
next  train,  love,  and  share  it  with  me !" 

i\Ir.  Bruff  said  nothing.  Rachel  looked  at  me  with  a  cruel 
astonishment  which  she  made  no  effort  to  conceal. 

"You  are  very  kind,  Drusilla,"  she  said.  "I  shall  hope 
to  visit  you  whenever  T  happen  to  be  in  London.  But 
I  have  accepted  Mr.  Bruff's  invitation,  and  I  think  it 
will  be  best,  for  the  present,  if  I  remain  under  ]\Ir.  Bruff's 
care." 

"Oh,  don't  say  so !"  I  pleaded.  "I  can't  part  with  you, 
Rachel — I  can't  part  with  you !" 

I  tried  to  fold  her  in  my  arms.  But  she  drew  back.  My 
fervor  did  not  communicate  itself;  it  only  alarmed  her. 

"Surely,"  she  said,  "this  is  a  very  unnecessary  display  of 
agitation?     I  don't  understand  it." 

"No  more  do  I,"  said  Mr.  Bruff. 

Their  hardness — their  hideous,  worldly  hardness — revolted 
me. 

"Oh,  Rachel !  Rachel !"  I  burst  out.  "Haven't  you  seen 
yet  that  my  heart  yearns  to  make  a  Christian  of  you  ?  Has 
no  inner  voice  told  you  that  I  am  trying  to  do  for  you.  what 
I  was  trying  to  do  for  your  dear  mother  when  death  snatched 
her  out  of  my  hands?" 

Rachel  advanced  a  step  nearer,  and  looked  at  me  very 
strangely. 

"I  don't  understand  your  reference  to  my  mother,"  she 
said.  "Miss  Clack,  will  you  have  the  goodness  to  explain 
yourself  ?" 

291 


THE  MOONSTONE 

Before  I  could  answer  Mr.  Bruff  came  forv/ard,  and,  offer- 
ing his  arm  to  Rachel,  tried  to  lead  her  out  of  the  room. 

"You  had  better  not  pursue  the  subject,  my  dear,"  he  said. 
"And  Miss  Clack  had  better  not  explain  herself." 

If  I  had  been  a  stock  or  a  stone,  such  an  interference  as 
this  must  have  roused  me  into  testifying  to  the  truth.  I  put 
Mr.  Bruff  aside  indignantly  with  my  own  hand,  and,  in  solemn 
and  suitable  language,  I  stated  the  view  with  which  sound 
doctrine  does  not  scruple  to  regard  the  awful  calamity  of 
dying  unprepared. 

Rachel  started  back  from  me — I  blush  to  write  it — with  a 
scream  of  horror. 

"Come  away !"  she  said  to  Mr.  Bruff.  "Come  away,  for 
God's  sake,  before  that  woman  can  say  any  more !  Oh,  think 
of  my  poor  mother's  harmless,  useful,  beautiful  life !  You 
were  at  the  funeral,  Mr.  Bruff;  you  saw  how  every  body 
loved  her;  you  saw  the  poor  helpless  people  crying  at  her 
grave  over  the  loss  of  their  best  friend.  And  that  wretch 
stands  there  and  tries  to  make  me  doubt  that  my  mother, 
who  was  an  angel  on  earth,  is  an  angel  in  heaven  now !  Don't 
stop  to  talk  about  it !  Come  away !  It  stifles  me  to  breathe 
the  same  air  with  her !  It  frightens  me  to  feel  that  we  are  in 
the  same  room  together !" 

Deaf  to  all  remonstrance,  she  ran  to  the  door. 

At  the  same  moment  her  maid  entered  with  her  bonnet 
and  shawl.  She  huddled  them  on  anyhow.  "Pack  my 
things,"  she  said,  "and  bring  them  to  Mr.  Bruff's."  I  at- 
tempted to  approach  her — I  was  shocked  and  grieved,  but, 
it  is  needless  to  say,  not  offended.  I  only  wished  to  say  to 
her,  "May  your  hard  heart  be  softened !  I  freely  forgive 
you !"  She  pulled  down  her  veil,  and  tore  her  shawl  away 
from  my  hand,  and,  hurrying  out,  shut  the  door  in  my  face. 
I  bore  the  insult  with  my  customary  fortitude.  I  remember 
it  now  with  my  customary  superiority  to  all  feeling  of  offense. 

Mr.  Bruff  had  his  parting  word  of  mockery  for  me,  before 
he  too  hurried  out,  in  his  turn. 

"You  had  better  not  have  explained  3'ourself,  Miss  Clack," 
he  said,  and  bowed,  and  left  the  room. 

The  person  with  the  cap-ribbons  followed. 

"It's  easy  to  see  who  has  set  them  all  by  the  ears  together," 

292 


THE  MOONSTONE 

she  said.  "I'm  only  a  poor  servant — but  I  declare  I'm 
ashamed  of  you !"  She  too  went  out,  and  banged  the  door 
after  her. 

I  was  left  alone  in  the  room.     Reviled  by  them  all,  de- 
serted by  them  all,  I  was  left  alone  in  the  room. 


Is  there  more  to  be  added  to  this  plain  statement  of  facts 
—to  this  touching  picture  of  a  Christian  persecuted  by  the 
world  ?  No !  my  diary  reminds  me  that  one  more  of  the 
many  checkered  chapters  in  my  life  ends  here.  From  that 
day  forth  I  never  saw  Rachel  Verinder  again.  She  had  my 
forgiveness  at  the  time  when  she  insulted  me.  She  has  had 
my  prayerful  good  wishes  ever  since.  And  when  I  die — to 
complete  the  return  on  my  part  of  good  for  evil — she  will 
have  the  Life,  Letters,  and  Labor  of  Miss  Jane  Ann  Stamper 
left  her  as  a  legacy  by  my  will. 


SECOND    NARRATIVE 

Contributed  by  Mathew  Briiff,  Solicitor,  of  Cray^s  Inn  Square. 


CHAPTER   I. 


MY  fair  friend,  Miss  Clack,  having  laid  down  the  pen, 
there  are  two  reasons  for  my  taking  it  up  next,  in  my 
turn. 

In  the  first  place,  I  am  in  a  position  to  throw  the  necessary 
light  on  certain  points  of  interest  which  have  thus  far  been 
left  in  the  dark.  Miss  Verinder  had  her  own  private  reason 
for  breaking  her  marriage  engagement — and  I  was  at  the 
bottom  of  it.  Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite  had  his  own  private 
reason  for  withdrawing  all  claim  to  the  hand  of  his  charm- 
ing cousin — and  I  discovered  what  it  was. 

In  the  second  place,  it  was  my  good  or  ill  fortune,  I  hardly 
know  which,  to  find  myself  personally  involved — at  the  period 

293 


THE  MOONSTONE 

of  which  I  am  now  writing — in  the  mystery  of  the  Indian 
Diamond.  I  had  the  honor  of  an  interview,  at  my  own 
office,  with  an  Oriental  stranger  of  distinguished  manners, 
who  was  no  other,  unquestionably,  than  the  chief  of  the  three 
Indians.  Add  to  this,  that  I  met  with  the  celebrated  trav- 
eler, Mr.  Murthwaite,  the  day  afterward,  and  that  I  held  a 
conversation  with  him  on  the  subject  of  the  Moonstone,  which 
has  a  very  important  bearing  on  later  events.  And  there  you 
have  the  statement  of  my  claims  to  fill  the  position  which  I 
occupy  in  these  pages. 

The  true  story  of  the  broken  marriage  engagement  comes 
first  in  point  of  time,  and  must  therefore  take  the  first  place 
in  the  present  narrative.  Tracing  my  way  back  along  the 
chain  of  events,  from  one  end  to  the  other,  I  find  it  necessary 
to  open  the  scene,  oddly  enough  as  you  will  think,  at  the 
bedside  of  my  excellent  client  and  friend,  the  late  Sir  John 
Verinder. 

Sir  John  had  his  share — perhaps  rather  a  large  share — of 
the  more  harmless  and  amiable  of  the  weaknesses  incidental 
to  humanity.  Among  these,  I  may  mention  as  applicable  to 
the  matter  in  hand,  an  invincible  reluctance — so  long  as  he 
enjoyed  his  usual  good  health — to  face  the  responsibility  of 
making  his  will.  Lady  Verinder  exerted  her  influence  to 
rouse  him  to  a  sense  of  duty  in  this  matter;  and  I  exerted 
my  influence.  He  admitted  the  justice  of  our  views — but 
he  went  no  further  than  that,  until  he  found  himself  afflicted 
with  the  illness  which  ultimately  brought  him  to  his  grave. 
Then  I  was  sent  for  at  last,  to  take  my  client's  instructions 
on  the  subject  of  his  will.  They  proved  to  be  the  simplest 
instructions  I  had  ever  received  in  the  whole  of  my  profes- 
sional career. 

Sir  John  was  dozing,  when  I  entered  the  room.  He  roused 
himself  at  the  sight  of  me. 

"How  do  you  do,  Mr.  BrufT?"  he  said.  "I  sha'n't  be  very 
long  about  this.  And  then  I'll  go  to  sleep  again."  He  looked 
on  with  great  interest  while  I  collected  pens,  ink,  and  paper. 
"Are  you  ready?"  he  asked.  I  bowed,  took  a  dip  of  ink,  and 
waited  for  my  instructions. 

"Every  thing  to  my  wife,"  said  Sir  John.     "That's  all." 

294 


THE  MOONSTONE 

He  turned  round  on  his  pillow,  and  composed  himself  to  sleep 
again. 

I  was  obliged  to  disturb  him. 

"Am  I  to  understand,"  I  asked,  "that  you  leave  the  whole 
of  the  property,  of  every  sort  and  description,  of  which  you 
die  possessed,  absolutely  to  Lady  Verinder?" 

"Yes,"  said  Sir  John.  "Only  /  put  it  shorter.  Why  can't 
you  put  it  shorter,  and  let  me  go  to  sleep  again  ?  Every  thing 
to  my  wife.    That's  my  will." 

His  property  was  entirely  at  his  own  disposal,  and  was  of 
two  kinds.  Property  in  land— I  purposely  abstain  from  using 
technical  language — and  property  in  money.  In  the  majority 
of  cases,  I  am  afraid  I  should  have  felt  it  my  duty  to  my 
client  to  ask  him  to  reconsider  his  will.  In  the  case  of  Sir 
John,  I  knew  Lady  Verinder  to  be,  not  only  worthy  of  the 
unreserved  trust  which  her  husband  had  placed  in  her — all 
good  wives  are  worthy  of  that — but  to  be  also  capable  of 
properly  administering  a  trust,  which,  in  my  experience  of  the 
fair  sex,  not  one  in  a  thousand  of  them  is  competent  to  do. 
In  ten  minutes  Sir  John's  will  was  drawn  and  executed,  and 
Sir  John  himself,  good  man,  was  finishing  his  interrupted 
nap. 

Lady  Verinder  amply  justified  the  confidence  which  her 
husband  had  placed  in  her.  In  the  first  days  of  her  widow- 
hood she  sent  for  me  and  made  her  will.  The  view  she  took 
of  her  position  was  so  thoroughly  sound  and  sensible  that  I 
was  relieved  of  all  necessity  for  advising  her.  My  responsi- 
bility began  and  ended  with  shaping  her  instructions  into 
the  proper  legal  form.  Before  Sir  John  had  been  a  fortnight 
in  his  grave  the  future  of  his  daughter  had  been  most  wisely 
and  most  affectionately  provided  for. 

The  will  remained  in  its  fire-proof  box  at  my  office,  through 
more  years  than  I  like  to  reckon  up.  It  was  not  till  the  sum- 
mer of  eighteen  hundred  and  forty-eight  that  I  found  occasion 
to  look  at  it  again  under  very  melancholy  circumstances. 

At  the  date  I  have  mentioned  the  doctors  pronounced  the 
sentence  on  poor  Lady  Verinder,  which  was  literally  a  sen- 
tence of  death.  I  was  the  first  person  whom  she  informed 
of  her  situation ;  and  I  found  her  anxious  to  go  over  her  will 
again  with  me, 

395 


THE  MOONSTONE 

It  was  impossible  to  improve  the  provisions  relating  to 
her  daughter.  But,  in  the  lapse  of  time,  her  wishes  in  regard 
to  certain  minor  legacies,  left  to  different  relatives,  had  under- 
gone some  modification ;  and  it  became  necessary  to  add  three 
or  four  codicils  to  the  original  document.  Having  done  this 
at  once,  for  fear  of  accidents,  I  obtained  her  ladyship's  per- 
mission to  embody  her  recent  instructions  in  a  second  will. 
My  object  was  to  avoid  certain  inevitable  confusions  and  repe- 
titions which  now  disfigured  the  original  document,  and 
which,  to  own  the  truth,  grated  sadly  on  my  professional  sense 
of  the  fitness  of  things. 

The  execution  of  this  second  will  has  been  described  by 
Miss  Clack,  who  was  so  obliging  as  to  witness  it.  So  far  as 
regards  Rachel  Verinder's  pecuniary  interests,  it  was,  wOrd 
for  word,  the  exact  counterpart  of  the  first  will.  The  only 
changes  introduced  related  to  the  appointment  of  a  guardian, 
and  to  certain  provisions  concerning  that  appointment,  which 
were  made  under  my  advice.  On  Lady  Verinder's  death, 
the  will  was  placed  in  the  hands  of  my  proctor  to  be  "proved," 
as  the  phrase  is,  in  the  usual  way. 

In  about  three  weeks  from  that  time — as  well  as  I  can  re- 
member— the  first  warning  reached  me  of  something  unusual 
going  on  under  the  surface.  I  happened  to  be  looking  in  at 
my  friend  the  proctor's  office,  and  I  observed  that  he  received 
me  with  an  appearance  of  greater  interest  than  usual. 

"I  have  some  news  for  you,"  he  said.  "What  do  you  think 
I  heard  at  Doctors'  Commons  this  morning?  Lady  Verin- 
der's will  has  been  asked  for,  and  examined,  already !" 

This  was  news  indeed !  There  was  absolutely  nothing 
which  could  be  contested  in  the  will ;  and  there  was  nobody 
I  could  think  of  who  had  the  slightest  interest  in  examining 
it.  I  shall  perhaps  do  well  if  I  explain  in  this  place,  for  the 
benefit  of  the  few  people  who  don't  know  it  already,  that  the 
law  allows  all  wills  to  be  examined  at  Doctors'  Commons  by 
any  body  who  applies,  on  the  payment  of  a  shilling  fee. 

"Did  you  hear  who  asked  for  the  will  ?"  I  inquired. 

"Yes ;  the  clerk  had  no  hesitation  in  telling  me.  Mr. 
Smalley,  of  the  firm  of  Skipp  &  Smalley,  asked  for  it.  The 
will  has  not  been  copied  yet  into  the  great  folio  registers. 
So  there  was  no  alternative  but  to  depart  from  the  usual 

296 


THE  MOONSTONE 

course,  and  to  let  him  see  the  original  document.  He  looked 
it  over  carefully,  and  made  a  note  in  his  pocket-book.  Have 
you  any  idea  of  w^hat  he  wanted  with  it?" 

I  shook  my  head.  "I  shall  find  out,"  I  answered,  "before 
I  am  a  day  older."  With  that  I  went  back  at  once  to  my 
own  office. 

If  any  other  firm  of  solicitors  had  been  concerned  in  this 
unaccountable  examination  of  my  deceased  client's  will  I 
might  have  found  some  difficulty  in  making  the  necessary 
discovery.  But  I  had  a  hold  over  Skipp  &  Smalley  which 
made  my  course  in  this  matter  a  comparatively  easy  one. 
My  common-law  clerk,  a  most  competent  and  excellent  man, 
was  a  brother  of  Mr.  Smalley 's;  and,  owing  to  this  sort  of 
indirect  connection  with  me,  Skipp  &  Smalley  had,  for  some 
vears  past,  picked  up  the  crumbs  that  fell  from  my  table,  in 
the  shape  of  cases  brought  to  my  office,  which,  for  various 
reasons,  I  did  not  think  it  worth  while  to  undertake.  My 
professional  patronage  was,  in  this  way,  of  some  importance 
to  the  firm.  I  intended,  if  necessary,  to  remind  them  of  that 
patronage  on  the  present  occasion. 

The  moment  I  got  back  I  spoke  to  my  clerk ;  and  after 
telling  him  what  had  happened  I  sent  him  to  his  brother's 
office,  "with  Mr.  Bruff's  compliments,  and  he  would  be  glad 
to  know  why  Messrs.  Skipp  &  Smalley  had  found  it  necessary 
to  examine  Lady  Verinder's  will." 

This  message  brought  Mr.  Smalley  back  to  my  office,  in 
company  with  his  brother.  He  acknowledged  that  he  had 
acted  under  instructions  received  from  a  client.  And  then 
he  put  it  to  me,  whether  it  would  not  be  a  breach  of  profes- 
sional confidence  on  his  part  to  say  more. 

We  had  a  smart  discussion  upon  that.  He  was  right,  no 
doubt,  and  I  was  wrong.  The  truth  is,  I  was  angry  and  sus- 
picious— and  I  insisted  on  knowing  more.  Worse  still,  I 
declined  to  consider  any  additional  information  oflfered  to 
me,  as  a  secret  placed  in  my  keeping :  I  claimed  perfect  free- 
dom to  use  my  own  discretion.  Worse  even  than  that,  I  took 
an  unwarrantable  advantage  of  my  position.  "Choose,  sir," 
T  said  to  Mr.  Smalley,  "between  the  risk  of  losing  your  client's 
business,  and  the  risk  of  losing  mine."  Quite  indefensible, 
I  admit — an  act  of  tyranny,  and  nothing  less.     Like  other 

297 


THE  MOONSTONE 

tyrants,  I  carried  my  point.     Mr.  Smalley  chose  his  alterna- 
tive, without  a  moment's  hesitation.     He  smiled  resignedly, 
and  gave  up  the  name  of  his  client, — Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite. 
That  was  enough  for  me — I  wanted  to  know  no  more. 

Having  reached  this  point  in  my  narrative,  it  now  becomes 
necessary  to  place  the  reader  of  these  lines — so  far  as  Lady 
Verinder's  will  is  concerned — on  a  footing  of  perfect  equality, 
in  respect  of  information,  with  myself. 

Let  me  state,  then,  in  the  fewest  possible  words,  that  Rachel 
Verinder  had  nothing  but  a  life-interest  in  the  property.  Her 
mother's  excellent  sense,  and  my  long  experience,  had  com- 
bined to  relieve  her  of  all  responsibility,  and  to  guard  her 
from  all  danger  of  becoming  the  victim  in  the  future  of  some 
needy  and  unscrupulous  man.  Neither  she  nor  her  husband, 
if  she  married,  could  raise  sixpence,  either  on  the  property  in 
land  or  on  the  property  in  money.  They  would  have  the 
houses  in  London  and  in  Yorkshire  to  live  in,  and  they  would 
have  the  handsome  income — and  that  was  all. 

When  I  came  to  think  over  what  I  had  discovered,  I  was 
sorely  perplexed  what  to  do  next. 

Hardly  a  week  had  passed  since  I  had  heard,  to  my  sur- 
prise and  distress,  of  Miss  Verinder's  proposed  marriage.  I 
had  the  sincerest  admiration  and  affection  for  her ;  and  I  had 
been  inexpressibly  grieved  when  I  heard  that  she  was  about 
to  throw  herself  away  on  Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite.  And  now, 
here  was  this  man — whom  I  had  always  believed  to  be  a 
smooth-tongued  impostor — justifying  the  very  worst  that  I 
had  thought  of  him,  and  plainly  revealing  the  mercenary  ob- 
ject of  the  marriage,  on  his  side!  And  what  of  that? — you 
may  reply — the  thing  is  done  every  day.  Granted,  my  dear 
sir.  But  would  you  think  of  it  quite  as  lightly  as  you  do, 
if  the  thing  was  done,  let  us  say,  with  your  own  sister? 

The  first  consideration  which  now  naturally  occurred  to 
me,  was  this.  Would  Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite  hold  to  his 
engagement,  after  what  his  lawyer  had  discovered  for  him? 

It  depended  entirely  on  his  pecuniary  position,  of  which  I 
knew  nothing.  If  that  position  was  not  a  desperate  one,  it 
would  be  well  worth  his  while  to  marry  Miss  Verinder  for 
her  income  alone.    If,  on  the  other  hand,  he  stood  in  urgent 

298 


THE  MOONSTONE 

need  of  realizing  a  large  sum  by  a  given  time,  then  Lady  Ver- 
inder's  \vill  would  exactly  meet  the  case,  and  would  preserve 
her  daughter  from  falling  into  a  scoundrel's  hands. 

In  che  latter  event,  there  would  be  no  need  for  me  to  dis- 
tress Miss  Rachel,  in  the  first  days  of  her  mourning  for  her 
mother,  by  an  immediate  revelation  of  the  truth.  In  the  for- 
mer event,  if  I  remained  silent,  I  should  be  conniving  at  a 
marriage  which  would  make  her  miserable  for  life. 

My  doubts  ended  in  my  calling  at  the  hotel  in  London,  at 
which  I  knew  Mrs.  Ablewhite  and  Miss  Verinder  to  be  stay- 
ing. They  informed  me  that  they  were  going  to  Brighton 
the  next  day,  and  that  an  unexpected  obstacle  prevented  Mr. 
Godfrey  Ablewhite  from  accompanying  them.  I  at  once  pro- 
posed to  take  his  place.  When  I  was  only  thinking  of  Rachel 
Verinder,  it  was  possible  to  hesitate.  When  I  actually  saw 
her,  my  mind  was  made  up  directly,  come  what  might  of  it, 
to  tell  her  the  truth. 

I  found  my  opportunity,  when  I  was  out  walking  with  her, 
on  the  day  after  my  arrival. 

"May  I  speak  to  you,"  I  asked,  ''about  your  marriage  en- 
gagement ?" 

"Yes,"  she  said,  indifferently,  "if  you  have  nothing  more 
interesting  to  talk  about." 

"Will  you  forgive  an  old  friend  and  servant  of  your  fam- 
ily, Miss  Rachel,  if  I  venture  on  asking  whether  your  heart 
is  set  on  this  marriage?" 

"I  am  marrying  in  despair,  Mr.  Bruff — on  the  chance  of 
dropping  into  some  sort  of  stagnant  happiness  which  may 
reconcile  me  to  my  life." 

Strong  language !  and  suggestive  of  something  below  the 
surface,  in  the  shape  of  a  romance.  But  I  had  my  own  object 
in  view,  and  I  declined,  as  we  lawyers  say,  to  pursue  the 
question  into  its  side  issues. 

"Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite  can  hardly  be  of  your  way  of 
thinking,"  I  said.  "His  heart  must  be  set  on  the  marriage, 
at  any  rate?" 

"He  says  so,  and  I  suppose  I  ought  to  believe  him.  He 
would  hardly  marry  me,  after  what  I  have  owned  to  him, 
unless  he  was  fond  of  me." 

Poor  thing!  the  bare  idea  of  a  man  marrying  her  for  his 

299 


THE  MOONSTONE 

own  selfish  and  mercenary  ends  had  never  entered  her  head. 
The  task  I  had  set  myself  began  to  look  like  a  harder  task 
than  I  had  bargained  for. 

"It  sounds  strangely,"  I  went  on,  "in  my  old-fashioned 
ears — " 

"What  sounds  strangely  ?"  she  asked. 

"To  hear  you  speak  of  your  future  husband  as  if  you  were 
not  quite  sure  of  the  sincerity  of  his  attachment.  Are  you 
conscious  of  any  reason  in  your  own  mind  for  doubting  him  ?" 

Her  astonishing  quickness  of  perception  detected  a  change 
in  my  voice,  or  my  manner,  when  I  put  that  question,  which 
warned  her  that  I  had  been  speaking  all  along  with  some 
ulterior  object  in  view.  She  stopped,  and,  taking  her  arm 
out  of  mine,  looked  me  searchingly  in  the  face. 

"Mr.  Bruff,"  she  said,  "you  have  something  to  tell  me 
about  Godfrey  Ablewhite.     Tell  it." 

I  knew  her  well  enough  to  take  her  at  her  word.    I  told  it. 

She  put  her  arm  again  into  mine,  and  walked  on  with  me 
slowly.  I  felt  her  hand  tightening  its  grasp  mechanically 
on  my  arm  and  I  saw  her  getting  paler  and  paler  as  I  went 
on ;  but  not  a  word  passed  her  lips  while  I  was  speaking. 
When  I  had  done,  she  still  kept  silence.  Her  head  drooped 
a  little,  and  she  walked  by  my  side,  unconscious  of  my  pres- 
ence, unconscious  of  every  thing  about  her;  lost — buried,  I 
might  almost  say — in  her  own  thoughts. 

I  made  no  attempt  to  disturb  her.  My  experience  of  her 
disposition  warned  me,  on  this,  as  on  former  occasions,  to 
give  her  time. 

The  first  instinct  of  girls  in  general,  on  being  told  of  any 
thing  which  interests  them,  is  to  ask  a  multitude  of  questions, 
and  then  to  run  ofif,  and  talk  it  all  over  with  some  favorite 
friend.  Rachel  Verinder's  first  instinct,  under  similar  cir- 
cumstances, was  to  shut  herself  up  in  her  own  mind,  and  to 
think  it  over  by  herself.  This  absolute  self-dependence  is  a 
great  virtue  in  a  man.  In  a  woman,  it  has  the  serious  draw- 
back of  morally  separating  her  from  the  mass  of  her  sex,  and 
so  exposing  her  to  misconstruction  by  the  general  opinion. 
I  strongly  suspect  myself  of  thinking  as  the  rest  of  the  world 
think  in  this  matter — except  in  the  case  of  Rachel  Verinder. 
The  self-dependence  in  her  character  was  one  of  its  virtues, 

300 


THE  MOONSTONE 

in  my  estimation ;  partly,  no  doubt,  because  I  sincerely  ad- 
mired and  liked  her;  partly,  because  the  view  I  took  of  her 
connection  with  the  loss  of  the  Moonstone  was  based  on  my 
own  special  knowledge  of  her  disposition.  Badly  as  appear- 
ances might  look  in  the  matter  of  the  Diamond — shocking  as 
it  undoubtedly  was  to  know  that  she  was  associated  in  any 
way  with  the  mystery  of  an  undiscovered  theft — I  was  satis- 
fied, nevertheless,  that  she  had  done  nothing  unworthy  of 
her,  because  I  was  also  satisfied  that  she  had  not  stirred  a 
step  in  the  business,  without  shutting  herself  up  in  her  own 
mind  and  thinking  it  over  first. 

We  had  walked  on,  for  nearly  a  mile  I  should  think,  before 
Rachel  roused  herself.  She  suddenly  looked  up  at  me  with 
a  faint  reflection  of  her  smile  of  happier  times — the  most  irre- 
sistible smile  I  had  ever  seen  on  a  woman's  face. 

"I  owe  much  already  to  your  kindness,"  she  said.  "And  I 
feel  more  deeply  indebted  to  it  now  than  ever.  If  you  hear 
any  rumors  of  my  marriage  when  you  go  back  to  London, 
contradict  them  at  once,  on  my  authority." 

"Have  you  resolved  to  break  your  engagement?"  I  asked. 

"Can  you  doubt  it?"  she  returned,  proudly,  "after  what 
you  have  told  me !" 

"My  dear  Miss  Rachel,  you  are  very  young — and  you  may 
find  more  difficulty  in  withdrawing  from  your  present  posi- 
tion than  you  anticipate.  Have  you  no  one — I  mean  a  lady 
of  course — whom  you  could  consult?" 

"No  one,"  she  answered. 

It  distressed  me,  it  did  indeed  distress  me,  to  hear  her  say 
that.  She  was  so  young  and  so  lonely — and  she  bore  it  so 
well !  The  impulse  to  help  her  got  the  better  of  any  sense 
of  my  own  unfitness  which  I  might  have  felt  under  the  cir- 
cumstances ;  and  I  stated  such  ideas  on  the  subject  as  occurred 
to  me  on  the  spur  of  the  moment,  to  the  best  of  my  ability. 
I  have  advised  a  prodigious  number  of  clients,  and  have  dealt 
with  some  exceedingly  awkward  difficulties,  in  my  time.  But 
this  was  the  first  occasion  on  which  I  had  ever  found  myself 
advising  a  young  lady  how  to  obtain  her  release  from  a  mar- 
riage engagement.  The  suggestion  I  oflfered  amounted  briefly 
to  this.  I  recommended  her  to  tell  Mr.  Godfrey  Ablewhite — 
at  a  private  interview,  of  course — that  he  had,  to  her  certain 

301 


THE  MOONSTONE 

knowledge,  betrayed  the  mercenary  nature  of  the  motive  on 
his  side.  She  was  then  to  add  that  their  marriage,  after  what 
she  had  discovered,  was  a  simple  impossibiHty — and  she  was 
to  put  it  to  him,  whether  he  thought  it  wisest  to  secure  her 
silence  by  falling  in  with  her  views,  or  to  force  her,  by  oppos- 
ing them,  to  make  the  motive  under  which  she -was  acting 
generally  known.  If  he  attempted  to  defend  himself,  or  to 
deny  the  facts,  she  was,  in  that  event,  to  refer  him  to  me. 

Miss  Verinder  listened  attentively  till  I  had  done.  She 
then  thanked  me  very  prettily  for  my  advice,  but  informed 
me  at  the  same  time  that  it  was  impossible  for  her  to  fol- 
low it. 

"May  I  ask,"  I  said,  "what  objection  you  see  to  follow- 
ing it?" 

She  hesitated — and  then  met  me  with  a  question  on  her 
side. 

"Suppose  you  were  asked  to  express  your  opinion  of  Mr. 
Godfrey  Ablewhite's  conduct?"  she  began. 

"Yes  ?" 

"What  would  you  call  it?" 

"I  should  call  it  the  conduct  of  a  meanly  deceitful  man." 

"Mr.  Bruff!  I  have  believed  in  that  man.  I  have  prom- 
ised to  marry  that  man.  How  can  I  tell  him  he  is  mean, 
how  can  I  tell  him  he  has  deceived  me,  how  can  I  disgrace 
him  in  the  eyes  of  the  world,  after  that?  I  have  degraded 
myself  by  ever  thinking  of  him  as  my  husband.  If  I  say 
what  you  tell  me  to  say  to  him — I  am  owning  that  I  have 
degraded  myself  to  his  face.  I  can't  do  that — after  what 
has  passed  between  us — I  can't  do  that !  The  shame  of  it 
would  be  nothing  to  him.  But  the  shame  of  it  would  be  un- 
endurable to  me." 

Here  was  another  of  the  marked  peculiarities  in  her  char- 
acter disclosing  itself  to  me  without  reserve.  Here  was  her 
sensitive  horror  of  the  bare  contact  with  any  thing  mean, 
blinding  her  to  every  consideration  of  what  she  owed  to  her- 
self, hurrying  her  into  a  false  position  which  might  compro- 
mise her  in  the  estimation  of  all  her  friends !  Up  to  this 
time  I  had  been  a  little  diffident  about  the  propriety  of  the 
advice  I  had  given  to  her.  But,  after  what  she  had  just 
said,  I  had  no  sort  of  dot.bt  that  it  was  the  best  advice  that 

302 


THE  MOONSTONE 

could  have  been  offered ;  and  I  felt  no  sort  of  hesitation  in 
pressing  it  on  her  again. 

She  only  shook  her  head  and  repeated  her  objection  in 
other  words. 

"He  has  been  intimate  enough  with  me  to  ask  me  to  be 
his  wife.  He  has  stood  high  enough  in  my  estimation  to 
obtain  my  consent.  I  can't  tell  him  to  his  face  that  he  is 
the  most  contemptible  of  living  creatures,  after  that !" 

"But,  my  dear  Miss  Rachel,"  I  remonstrated,  "it's  equally 
impossible  for  you  to  tell  him  that  you  withdraw  from  your 
engagement,  without  giving  some  reason  for  it." 

"I  shall  say  that  I  have  thought  it  over  and  that  I  am 
satisfied  it  will  be  best  for  both  of  us  if  we  part." 

"No  more  than  that?" 

"No  more." 

"Have  you  thought  of  what  he  may  say,  on  his  side?" 

"He  may  say  what  he  pleases." 

It  was  impossible  not  to  admire  her  delicacy  and  her  reso- 
lution and  it  was  equally  impossible  not  to  feel  that  she  was 
putting  herself  in  the  wrong.  I  entreated  her  to  consider 
her  own  position.  I  reminded  her  that  she  would  be  exposing 
herself  to  the  most  odious  misconstruction  of  her  motives. 
"You  can't  brave  public  opinion,"  I  said,  "at  the  command 
of  private  feeling." 

"I  can,"  she  answered.     "I  have  done  it  already." 

"What  do  you  mean?" 

"You  have  forgotten  the  Moonstone,  Mr.  Bruff.  Have  I 
not  braved  public  opinion,  there,  with  my  own  private  rea- 
sons for  it?" 

Her  answer  silenced  me  for  the  moment.  It  set  me  trying 
to  trace  the  explanation  of  her  conduct,  at  the  time  of  the 
loss  of  the  Moonstone,  out  of  the  strange  avowal  which  had 
just  escaped  her.  I  might  perhaps  have  done  it  when  I  was 
younger.     I  certainly  couldn't  do  it  now. 

I  tried  a  last  remonstrance,  before  we  returned  to  the 
house.  She  was  just  as  immovable  as  ever.  My  mind  was 
in  a  strange  conflict  of  feelings  about  her  when  I  left  her 
that  day.  She  was  obstinate ;  she  was  wrong.  She  was  in- 
teresting ;  she  was  admirable ;  she  was  deeply  to  be  pitied. 
I  made  her  promise  to  write  to  me  the  moment  she  had  any 

303 


THE  MOONSTONE 

news  to  send.  And  I  went  back  to  my  business  in  London, 
with  a  mind  exceedingly  ill  at  ease. 

On  the  evening  of  my  return,  before  it  was  possible  for 
me  to  receive  my  promised  letter,  I  was  surprised  by  a  visit 
from  Mr.  Ablewhite  the  elder,  and  was  informed  that  Mr. 
Godfrey  had  got  his  dismissal — and  had  accepted  it — that 
very  day. 

With  the  view  I  already  took  of  the  case,  the  bare  fact 
stated  in  the  words  that  I  have  underlined,  revealed  Mr.  God- 
frey Ablewhite's  motive  for  submission  as  plainly  as  if  he  had 
acknowledged  it  himself.  He  needed  a  large  sum  of  money ; 
and  he  needed  it  by  a  given  time.  Rachel's  income,  which 
would  have  helped  him  to  any  thing  else,  would  not  help  him 
here ;  and  Rachel  had  accordingly  released  herself,  without 
encountering  a  moment's  serious  opposition  on  his  part.  If 
I  am  told  that  this  is  mere  speculation,  I  ask,  in  my  turn. 
What  other  theory  will  account  for  his  giving  up  a  marriage 
which  would  have  maintained  him  in  splendor  for  the  rest 
of  his  life? 

Any  exultation  I  might  otherwise  have  felt  at  the  lucky 
turn  which  things  had  now  taken  was  effectually  checked  by 
what  passed  at  my  interview  with  old  Mr.  Ablewhite. 

He  came,  of  course,  to  know  whether  I  could  give  him  any 
explanation  of  Miss  Verinder's  extraordinary  conduct.  It  is 
needless  to  say  that  I  was  quite  unable  to  afford  him  the  in- 
formation he  wanted.  The  annoyance  which  I  thus  inflicted, 
following  on  the  irritation  produced  by  a  recent  interview 
with  his  son,  threw  Mr.  Ablewhite  off  his  guard.  Both  his 
looks  and  his  language  convinced  me  that  Miss  Verinder 
would  find  him  a  merciless  man  to  deal  with,  when  he  joined 
the  ladies  at  Brighton  the  next  day. 

I  had  a  restless  night,  considering  what  I  ought  to  do  next. 
How  many  reflections  ended,  and  how  thoroughly  well  found- 
ed my  distrust  of  old  Mr,  Ablewhite  proved  to  be,  are 
items  of  information  which,  as  I  am  told,  have  already  been 
put  tidily  in  their  proper  places  by  that  exemplary  person. 
Miss  Clack.  I  have  only  to  add — in  completion  of  her  narra- 
tive— that  Miss  Verinder  found  a  quiet  and  repose  which  she 
sadly  needed,  poor  thing,  in  my  house  at  Hampstead.  She 
honored  us  by  making  a  long  stay.     My  wife  and  daughters 

304 


THE  MOONSTONE 

were  charmed  with  her;  and,  when  the  executors  decided 
on  the  appointment  of  a  new  guardian,  I  feel  sincere  pride 
and  pleasure  in  recording  that  my  guest  and  my  family  parted 
like  old  friends,  on  either  side. 


CHAPTER   H. 


THE  next  thing  I  have  to  do,  is  to  present  such  additional 
information  as  I  possess  on  the  subject  of  the  Moon- 
stone, or,  to  speak  more  correctly,  on  the  subject  of  the  Indian 
plot  to  steal  the  Diamond.  The  little  that  I  have  to  tell  is, 
as  I  think  I  have  already  said,  of  some  importance,  never- 
theless, in  respect  of  its  bearing  very  remarkably  on  events 
which  are  still  to  come. 

About  a  week  or  ten  days  after  Miss  Verinder  had  left  us, 
one  of  my  clerks  entered  the  private  room  at  my  office,  with 
a  card  in  his  hand,  and  informed  me  that  a  gentleman  was 
below  who  wanted  to  speak  to  me. 

I  looked  at  the  card.  There  was  a  foreign  name  written 
on  it,  which  has  escaped  my  memory.  It  was  followed  by  a 
line  written  in  English  at  the  bottom  of  the  card,  which  I 
remember  perfectly  well : 

"Recommended  by  Mr.  Septimus  Luker." 

The  audacity  of  a  person  in  Mr.  Luker's  position  presum- 
ing to  recommend  any  body  to  me,  took  me  so  completely 
by  surprise,  that  I  sat  silent  for  the  moment,  wondering 
whether  my  own  eyes  had  not  deceived  me.  The  clerk,  ob- 
serving my  bewilderment,  favored  me  with  the  result  of  his 
own  observation  of  the  stranger  who  was  waiting  down 
stairs. 

"He's  rather  a  remarkable-looking  man,  sir.  So  dark  in 
the  complexion  that  we  all  set  him  down  in  the  office  for  an 
Indian,  or  something  of  that  sort." 

Associating  the  clerk's  idea  with  the  very  offensive  line 
inscribed  on  the  card  in  my  hand,  I  instantly  suspected  that 
the  Moonstone  was  at  the  bottom  of  Mr.  Luker's  recommen- 
dation and  of  the  stranger's  visit  at  mv  office.  To  the  astonish- 


20 


305 


THE  MOONSTONE 

ment  of  my  clerk,  I  at  once  decided  on  granting  an  interview 
to  the  gentleman  below. 

In  justification  of  the  highly  unprofessional  sacrifice  to 
mere  curiosity  which  I  thus  made,  permit  me  to  remind  any 
body  who  may  read  these  lines,  that  no  living  person,  in 
England,  at  any  rate,  can  claim  to  have  had  such  an  intimate 
connection  with  the  romance  of  the  Indian  Diamond  as  mine 
has  been.  I  was  trusted  with  the  secret  of  Colonel  Hern- 
castle's  plan  for  escaping  assassination.  I  received  the  Col- 
onel's letters,  periodically  reporting  himself  a  living  man. 
I  drew  his  will,  leaving  the  Moonstone  to  Miss  Verinder.  I 
persuaded  his  executor  to  act,  on  the  chance  that  the  jewel 
might  prove  to  be  a  valuable  acquisition  to  the  family.  And, 
lastly,  I  combated  Mr.  Franklin  Blake's  scruples  and  induced 
him  to  be  the  means  of  transporting  the  Diamond  to  Lady 
Verinder's  house.  If  any  one  can  claim  a  prescriptive  right 
of  interest  in  the  Moonstone  and  in  every  thing  connected 
with  it,  I  think  it  is  hardly  to  be  denied  that  I  am  the  man. 

The  moment  my  mysterious  client  was  shown  in  I  felt  an 
inner  conviction  that  I  was  in  the  presence  of  one  of  the 
three  Indians — probably  of  the  chief.  He  was  carefully 
dressed  in  European  costume.  But  his  swarthy  complexion, 
his  long  lithe  figure,  and  his  grave  and  graceful  politeness 
of  manner,  were  enough  to  betray  his  Oriental  origin  to  any 
intelligent  eyes  that  looked  at  him. 

I  pointed  to  a  chair,  and  begged  to  be  informed  of  the 
nature  of  his  business  with  me. 

After  first  apologizing — in  an  excellent  selection  of  English 
words — for  the  liberty  which  he  had  taken  in  disturbing  me, 
the  Indian  prgduced  a  small  parcel  the  outer  covering  of 
which  was  of  cloth  of  gold.  Removing  this  and  a  second 
wrapping  of  some  silken  fabric,  he  placed  a  little  box,  or 
casket,  on  my  table,  most  beautifully  and  richly  inlaid  in 
jewels  on  an  ebony  ground. 

'T  have  come,  sir,"  he  said,  "to  ask  you  to  lend  me  some 
money.  And  I  leave  this  as  an  assurance  to  you  that  my 
debt  will  be  paid  back." 

I  pointed  to  his  card.  "And  you  apply  to  me,"  I  rejoined, 
"at  Mr.  Luker's  recommendation?" 

The  Indian  bowed. 

306 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"May  I  ask  how  it  is  that  Mr.  Luker  himself  did  not  ad- 
vance the  money  that  you  require?" 

"Mr.  Luker  informed  me,  sir,  that  he  had  no  money  to 
lend." 

"And  so  he  recommended  you  to  come  to  me?" 

The  Indian,  in  his  turn,  pointed  to  the  card.  "It  is  written 
there,"  he  said. 

Briefly  answered,  and  thoroughly  to  the  purpose !  If  the 
Moonstone  had  been  in  my  possession,  this  Oriental  gentle- 
man would  have  murdered  me,  I  am  well  aware,  without  a 
moment's  hesitation.  At  the  same  time,  and  barring  that 
slight  drawback,  I  am  bound  to  testify  that  he  was  the  perfect 
model  of  a  client.  He  might  not  have  respected  my  life.  But 
he  did  what  none  of  my  own  countrymen  had  ever  done  in 
all  my  experience  of  them — he  respected  my  time. 

"I  am  sorry,"  I  said,  "that  you  should  have  had  the  trouble 
of  coming  to  me.  Mr.  Luker  is  quite  mistaken  in  sending 
you  here.  I  am  trusted,  like  other  men  of  my  profession, 
with  money  to  lend.  But  I  never  lend  it  to  strangers  and  I 
never  lend  it  on  such  a  security  as  you  have  produced." 

Far  from  attempting,  as  other  people  would  have  done,  to 
induce  me  to  relax  my  own  rules,  the  Indian  only  made  me 
another  bow,  and  wrapped  up  his  box  in  its  two  coverings 
without  a  word  of  protest.  He  rose — this  admirable  assassin 
rose  to  go,  the  moment  I  had  answered  him ! 

"Will  your  condescension  toward  a  stranger  excuse  my 
asking  one  question,"  he  said,  "before  I  take  my  leave  ?" 

I  bowed  on  my  side.  Only  one  question  at  parting!  The 
average  in  my  experience  was  fifty. 

"Supposing,  sir,  it  had  been  possible,  and  customary,  for 
you  to  lend  me  the  money,"  he  said,  "in  what  space  of  time 
would  it  have  been  possible,  and  customarv,  for  me  to  pav 
it  back  ?" 

"According  to  the  usual  course  pursued  in  this  country," 
I  answered,  "you  would  have  been  entitled  to  pay  the  money 
back,  if  you  liked,  in  one  year's  time  from  the  date  at  which 
it  was  first  advanced  to  you." 

The  Indian  made  me  a  last  bow,  the  lowest  of  all,  and  sud- 
denly and  softly  walked  out  of  the  room. 

It  was  done  in  a  moment,  in  a  noiseless,  supple,  cat-like 

307 


THE  MOONSTONE 

way,  which  a  Httle  startled  me,  I  own.  As  soon  as  I  was 
composed  enough  to  think,  I  arrived  at  one  distinct  conclu- 
sion in  reference  to  the  otherwise  incomprehensible  visitor 
who  had  favored  me  with  a  call. 

His  face,  voice,  and  manner — while  I  was  in  his  company 
— were  under  such  perfect  control  that  they  set  all  scrutiny 
at  defiance.  But  he  had  given  me  one  chance  of  looking 
under  the  smooth  outer  surface  of  him,  for  all  that.  He  had 
not  shown  the  slightest  sign  of  attempting  to  fix  any  thing 
that  I  had  said  to  him  in  his  mind,  until  I  mentioned  the  time 
at  which  it  was  customary  to  permit  the  earliest  repayment, 
on  the  part  of  the  debtor,  of  money  that  had  been  advanced 
as  a  loan.  When  I  gave  him  that  piece  of  information,  he 
looked  me  straight  in  the  face,  while  I  was  speaking,  for  the 
first  time.  The  inference  I  drew  from  this  was,  that  he  had 
a  special  purpose  in  asking  me  his  last  question,  and  a  special 
interest  in  hearing  my  answer  to  it.  The  more  carefully  I 
reflected  on  what  had  passed  between  us,  the  more  shrewdly 
I  suspected  the  production  of  the  casket,  and  the  application 
for  the  loan,  of  having  been  mere  formalities,  designed  to 
pave  the  way  for  the  parting  inquiry  addressed  to  me. 

I  had  satisfied  myself  of  the  correctness  of  this  conclusion 
— and  was  trying  to  get  on  a  step  farther  and  penetrate  the 
Indian's  motives  next — when  a  letter  was  brought  to  me, 
which  proved  to  be  from  no  less  a  person  than  Mr.  Septimus 
Luker  himself.  He  asked  my  pardon  in  terms  of  sickening 
servility,  and  assured  me  that  he  could  explain  matters  to  my 
satisfaction,  if  I  would  honor  him  by  consenting  to  a  personal 
interview. 

I  made  another  unprofessional  sacrifice  to  mere  curiosity. 
I  honored  him  by  making  an  appointment  at  my  office,  for 
the  next  day. 

Mr.  Luker  was,  in  every  respect,  such  an  inferior  creature 
to  the  Indian — he  was  so  vulgar,  so  ugly,  so  cringing,  and  so 
prosy — that  he  is  quite  unworthy  of  being  reported,  at  any 
length,  in  these  pages.  The  substance  of  what  he  had  to  tell 
me  may  be  fairly  stated  as  follows : 

The  day  before  I  had  received  the  visit  of  the  Indian,  ]\Ir. 
Luker  had  been  favored  with  a  call  from  that  accomplished 
gentleman.    In  spite  of  his  European  disguise,  Mr.  Luker  had 

308 


THE  MOONSTONE 

instantly  identified  his  visitor  with  the  chief  of  the  three 
Indians,  who  had  formerly  annoyed  him  by  loitering  about 
his  house,  and  who  had  left  him  no  alternative  but  to  consult 
a  magistrate.  From  this  startling  discovery  he  had  rushed  to 
the  conclusion,  naturally  enough  I  own,  that  he  must  cer- 
tainly be  in  the  company  of  one  of  the  three  men  who  had 
blindfolded  him,  gagged  him,  and  robbed  him  of  his  banker's 
receipt.  The  result  was  that  he  became  quite  paralyzed  with 
terror,  and  that  he  firmly  believed  his  last  hour  had  come. 

On  his  side,  the  Indian  preserved  the  character  of  a  perfect 
stranger.  He  produced  the  little  casket  and  made  exactly 
the  same  application  which  he  had  afterward  made  to  me. 
As  the  speediest  way  of  getting  rid  of  him,  Mr.  Luker  had 
at  once  declared  that  he  had  no  money.  The  Indian  had 
thereupon  asked  to  be  informed  of  the  best  and  safest  person 
to  apply  to  for  the  loan  he  wanted.  Mr.  Luker  had  answered 
that  the  best  and  safest  person,  in  such  cases,  was  usually  a 
respectable  solicitor.  Asked  to  name  some  one  individual 
of  that  character  and  profession,  Mr.  Luker  had  mentioned 
me — for  the  one  simple  reason  that,  in  the  extremity  of  his 
terror,  mine  was  the  first  name  which  occurred  to  him.  "The 
perspiration  was  pouring  off  me  like  rain,  sir,"  the  wretched 
creature  concluded.  "I  didn't  know  what  I  was  talking  about. 
And  I  hope  you'll  look  over  it,  Mr,  Brufif,  sir,  in  considera- 
tion of  my  having  been  really  and  truly  frightened  out  of 
my  wits." 

I  excused  the  fellow  graciously  enough.  It  was  the  readiest 
way  of  releasing  myself  from  the  sight  of  him.  Before  he 
left  me  I  detained  him  to  make  one  inquiry.  Had  the  Indian 
said  any  thing  noticeable  at  the  moment  of  quitting  Mr. 
Luker's  house? 

Yes !  The  Indian  had  put  precisely  the  same  question  to 
Mr.  Luker,  at  parting,  which  he  had  put  to  me ;  receiving,  of 
course,  the  same  answer  as  the  answer  which  I  had  given  to 
him. 

What  did  it  mean?  Mr,  Luker's  explanation  gave  me  no 
assistance  toward  solving  the  problem.  My  own  unaided 
ingenuity,  consulted  next,  proved  quite  unequal  to  grapple 
with  the  difficulty.  I  had  a  dinner  engagement  that  evening ; 
and  I  went  up  stairs  in  no  very  genial  frame  of  mind,  little 

3©9 


THE  MOONSTONE 

suspecting  that  the  way  to  my  dressing-room,  and  the  way 
to  discovery,  meant,  on  this  particular  occasion,  one  and  the 
same  thing. 


CHAPTER   HI. 

THE  prominent  personage  among  the  guests  at  the  dinner 
party  I  found  to  be  Mr.  Murthwaite. 

On  his  appearance  in  England,  some  months  since,  society 
had  been  greatly  interested  in  the  traveler,  as  a  man  who  had 
passed  through  many  dangerous  adventures  and  who  had 
escaped  to  tell  the  tale.  He  had  now  announced  his  intention 
of  returning  to  the  scene  of  his  exploits  and  of  penetrating 
into  regions  left  still  unexplored.  This  magnificent  indiffer- 
ence to  presuming  on  his  luck  and  to  placing  his  safety  in 
peril  for  the  second  time,  revived  the  flagging  interest  of  the 
worshipers  in  the  hero.  The  law  of  chances  was  clearly 
against  his  escaping  on  this  occasion.  It  is  not  every  day 
that  we  can  meet  an  eminent  person  at  dinner  and  feel  that 
there  is  a  reasonable  prospect  of  the  news  of  his  murder  being 
the  news  that  we  hear  of  him  next. 

When  the  gentlemen  were  left  by  themselves  in  the  dining- 
room,  I  found  myself  sitting  next  to  Mr.  Murthwaite.  The 
guests  present  being  all  English,  it  is  needless  to  say  that,  as 
soon  as  the  wholesome  check  exercised  by  the  presence  of 
the  ladies  was  removed,  the  conversation  turned  on  politics  as 
a  necessary  result. 

In  respect  to  this  all-absorbing  national  topic,  I  happen  to 
be  one  of  the  most  un-English  Englishmen  living.  As  a 
general  rule,  political  talk  appears  to  me  to  be  of  all  talk 
the  most  dreary  and  the  most  profitless.  Glancing  at  Mr. 
Murthwaite,  when  the  bottles  had  made  their  first  round  of 
the  table,  I  found  that  he  was  apparently  of  my  way  of  think- 
ing. He  was  doing  it  very  dexterously — with  all  possible 
consideration  for  the  feelings  of  the  host — but  it  is  not  the 
less  certain  that  he  was  composing  himself  for  a  nap.  It 
struck  me  as  an  experiment  worth  attempting,  to  try  whether 
a  judicious  allusion  to  the  subject  of  the  Moonstone  would 
keep  him  awake,  and,  if  it  did,  to  see  what  he  thought  of  the 

310 


THE  MOONSTONE 

last  new  complication  in  the  Indian  conspiracy,  as  revealed 
in  the  prosaic  precincts  of  my  office. 

"If  I  am  not  mistaken,  Mr.  Murthwaite,"  I  began,  "you 
were  acquainted  with  the  late  Lady  Verinder,  and  you  took 
some  interest  in  the  strange  succession  of  events  w^hich  ended 
in  the  loss  of  the  Moonstone  ?" 

The  eminent  traveler  did  me  the  honor  of  waking  up  in  an 
instant,  and  asking  me  who  I  was. 

I  informed  him  of  my  professional  connection  with  the 
Herncastle  family,  not  forgetting  the  curious  position  which 
I  had  occupied  toward  the  Colonel  and  his  Diamond  in  the 
by-gone  time. 

]\Ir.  Murthwaite  shifted  round  in  his  chair,  so  as  to  put 
the  rest  of  the  company  behind  him.  Conservatives  and  Lib- 
erals alike,  and  concentrated  his  whole  attention  on  plain 
Mr.  Bruff,  of  Gray's  Inn  Square. 

"Have  you  heard  any  thing  lately  of  the  Indians?"  he 
asked. 

"I  have  every  reason  to  believe,"  I  answered,  "that  one 
of  them  had  an  interview  with  me,  in  my  office,  yesterday." 

Mr.  Murthwaite  was  not  an  easy  man  to  astonish ;  but  that 
last  answer  of  mine  completely  staggered  him.  I  described 
what  had  happened  to  Mr.  Luker  and  what  had  happened 
to  myself,  exactly  as  I  have  described  it  here.  "It  is  clear 
that  the  Indian's  parting  inquiry  had  an  object,"  I  added. 
"Why  should  he  be  so  anxious  to  know  the  time  at  which 
a  borrower  of  money  is  usuallv  privileged  to  pav  the  monev 
back?" 

"Is  it  possible  that  you  don't  see  his  motive,  Mr.  BrufT?" 

"I  am  ashamed  of  my  stupidity,  Mr.  Murthw^aite — but  I 
certainly  don't  see  it." 

The  great  traveler  became  quite  interested  in  sounding 
the  immense  vacuity  of  my  dullness  to  its  lowest  depths. 

"Let  me  ask  you  one  question,"  he  said.  "In  what  posi- 
tion does  the  conspiracy  to  seize  the  Moonstone  now  stand?" 

"I  can't  say,"  I  answered.  "The  Indian  plot  is  a  mystery 
to  me." 

"The  Indian  plot,  Mr.  Bruff,  can  only  be  a  mystery  to 
you,  because  you  have  never  seriously  examined  it.  Shall 
we  run  it  over  together,  from  the  time  when  you  drew  Col- 

311 


THE  MOONSTONE 

onel  Herncastle's  will,  to  the  time  when  the  Indian  called 
at  your  office?  In  your  position,  it  may  be  of  very  serious 
importance  to  the  interests  of  Miss  Verindcr  that  you  should 
be  able  to  take  a  clear  view  of  this  matter  in  case  of  need. 
Tell  me,  bearing  that  in  mind,  whether  you  will  penetrate 
the  Indian's  motive  for  yourself?  or  whether  you  wish  me  to 
save  you  the  trouble  of  making  any  inquiry  into  it?" 

It  is  needless  to  say  that  I  thoroughly  appreciated  the 
practical  purpose  which  I  now  saw  that  he  had  in  view, 
and  that  the  first  of  the  two  alternatives  was  the  alternative 
I  chose. 

"Very  good,"  said  Mr.  Murthwaite.  "We  will  take  the 
question  of  the  ages  of  the  three  Indians  first.  I  can  testify 
that  they  all  look  much  about  the  same  age — and  you  can 
decide  for  yourself  whether  the  man  whom  you  saw  was,  or 
was  not,  in  the  prime  of  life.  Not  forty,  you  think?  My 
idea  too.  We  will  say  not  forty.  Now  look  back  at  the 
time  when  Colonel  Herncastle  came  to  England,  and  when 
you  were  concerned  in  the  plan  he  adopted  to  preserve  his 
life.  I  don't  want  you  to  count  the  years.  I  will  only  say, 
it  is  clear  that  these  present  Indians,  at  their  age,  must  be 
the  successors  of  three  other  Indians — high-caste  Brahmans 
all  of  them,  Mr.  Brufif,  when  they  left  their  native  country ! 
— who  followed  the  Colonel  to  these  shores.  Very  well. 
These  present  men  of  ours  have  succeeded  to  the  men  who 
were  here  before  them.  If  they  had  only  done  that,  the  mat- 
ter would  not  have  been  worth  inquiring  into.  But  they  have 
done  more.  They  have  succeeded  to  the  organization  which 
their  predecessors  established  in  this  country.  Don't  start ! 
The  organization  is  a  very  trumpery  affair,  according  to  our 
ideas,  I  have  no  doubt.  I  should  reckon  it  up  as  including 
the  command  of  money ;  the  services,  when  needed,  of  that 
shady  sort  of  Englishman,  who  lives  in  the  byways  of  foreign 
life  in  London ;  and,  lastly,  the  secret  sympathy  of  such  few 
men  of  their  own  country  and,  formerly,  at  least,  of  their 
own  religion,  as  happen  to  be  employed  in  ministering  to  some 
of  the  multitudinous  wants  of  this  great  city.  Nothing  very 
formidable,  as  you  see !  But  worth  notice  at  starting,  because 
we  may  find  occasion  to  refer  to  the  modest  little  Indian 
organization  as  we  go  on.    Having  now  cleared  the  ground,  I 

313 


THE  MOONSTONE 

« 

am  going  to  ask  you  a  question ;  and  I  expect  your  experience 
to  answer  it.  What  was  the  event  which  gave  the  Indians 
their  first  chance  of  seizing  the  Diamond  ?" 

I  understood  the  allusion  to  my  experience. 

"The  first  chance  they  got,"  I  replied,  "was  clearly  offered 
to  them  by  Colonel  Herncastle's  death.  They  would  be  aware 
of  his  death,  I  suppose,  as  a  matter  of  course?" 

"As  a  matter  of  course.  And  his  death,  as  you  say,  gave 
them  their  first  chance.  Up  to  that  time  the  Moonstone  was 
safe  in  the  strong-room  of  the  bank.  You  drew  the  Colonel's 
will  leaving  his  jewel  to  his  niece;  and  the  will  was  proved 
in  the  usual  way.  As  a  lawyer,  you  can  be  at  no  loss  to  know 
what  course  the  Indians  would  take,  under  English  advice, 
after  that:' 

"They  would  provide  themselves  with  a  copy  of  the  will 
from  Doctors'  Commons,"  I  said. 

"Exactly.  One  or  other  of  those  shady  Englishmen  to 
whom  I  have  alluded  would  get  them  the  copy  you  have  de- 
scribed. That  copy  would  inform  them  that  the  Moonstone 
was  bequeathed  to  the  daughter  of  Lady  Verinder,  and  that 
Mr.  Blake  the  elder,  or  some  person  appointed  by  him,  was 
to  place  it  in  her  hands.  You  will  agree  with  me  that  the 
necessary  information  about  persons  in  the  position  of  Lady 
Verinder  and  Mr.  Blake  would  be  perfectly  easy  information 
to  obtain.  The  one  difficulty  for  the  Indians  would  be  to 
decide,  whether  they  should  make  their  attempt  on  the  Dia- 
mond when  it  was  in  course  of  removal  from  the  keeping  of 
the  bank  or  whether  they  should  wait  until  it  was  taken  down 
to  Yorkshire,  to  Lady  Verinder's  house.  The  second  way 
would  be  manifestly  the  safest  way — and  there  you  have  the 
explanation  of  the  appearance  of  the  Indians  at  Frizinghall, 
disguised  as  jugglers,  and  waiting  their  time.  In  London, 
it  is  needless  to  say,  they  had  their  organization  at  their  dis- 
posal to  keep  them  informed  of  events.  Two  men  would  do 
it.  One  to  follow  any  body  who  went  from  Mr.  Blake's 
house  to  the  bank.  And  one  to  treat  the  lower  men-servants 
with  beer  and  to  hear  the  news  of  the  house.  These  common- 
place precautions  would  readily  inform  them  that  Mr.  Frank- 
lin Blake  had  been  to  the  bank  and  that  ]\Tr.  Franklin  Blake 
was  the  only  person  in  the  house  who  was  going  to  visit  Lady 


THE  MOONSTONE 

Verinder.  What  actually  followed  upon  that  discovery,  you 
remember,  no  doubt,  quite  as  correctly  as  I  do." 

I  remembered  that  Franklin  Blake  had  detected  one  of  the 
spies  in  the  street — that  he  had,  in  consequence,  advanced 
the  time  of  his  arrival  in  Yorkshire  by  some  hours — and  that, 
thanks  to  old  Betteredge's  excellent  advice,  he  had  lodged 
the  Diamond  in  the  bank  at  Frizinghall  before  the  Indians 
were  so  much  as  prepared  to  see  him  in  the  neighborhood. 
All  perfectly  clear  so  far.  But,  the  Indians  being  ignorant 
of  the  precaution  thus  taken,  how  was  it  that  they  had  made 
no  attempt  on  Lady  Verinder's  house,  in  which  they  must 
have  supposed  the  Diamond  to  be,  through  the  whole  of  the 
interval  that  elapsed  before  Rachel's  birthday? 

In  putting  this  difficulty  to  Mr.  Murthwaite,  I  thought  it 
right  to  add  that  I  had  heard  of  the  little  boy  and 
the  drop  of  ink  and  the  rest  of  it,  and  that  any  explana- 
tion based  on  the  theory  of  clairvoyance  was  an  explana- 
tion which  would  carry  no  conviction  whatever  with  it,  to  my 
mind. 

"Nor  to  mine  either,"  said  Mr.  Murthwaite.  "The  clair- 
voyance in  this  case  is  simply  a  development  of  the  romantic 
side  of  the  Indian  character.  It  would  be  a  refreshment  and 
an  encouragement  to  those  men — quite  inconceivable,  I  grant 
you,  to  the  English  mind — to  surround  their  wearisome  and 
perilous  errand  in  this  country  with  a  certain  halo  of  the 
marvelous  and  the  supernatural.  Their  boy  is  unquestion- 
ably a  sensitive  subject  to  the  mesmeric  influence — and,  under 
that  influence,  he  has  no  doubt  reflected  what  was  already  in 
the  mind  of  the  person  mesmerizing  him.  I  have  tested  the 
theory  of  clairvoyance,  and  I  have  never  found  the  manifes- 
tations get  beyond  that  point.  The  Indians  don't  investigate 
the  matter  in  this  way ;  the  Indians  look  upon  their  boy  as  a 
seer  of  things  invisible  to  their  eyes — and,  I  repeat,  in  that 
marvel  they  find  the  source  of  a  new  interest  in  the  purpose 
that  unites  them.  I  only  notice  this  as  offering  a  curious  view 
of  human  character,  which  must  be  quite  new  to  you.  We 
have  nothing  whatever  to  do  with  clairvoyance,  or  with  mes- 
merism, or  with  any  thing  else  that  is  hard  of  belief  to  a 
practical  man,  in  the  inquiry  that  we  are  now  pursuing.  My 
object  in  following  the  Indian  plot,  step  by  step,  is  to  trace 

3H 


THE  MOONSTONE 

results  back,  by  rational  means,  to  natural  causes.  Have  I 
succeeded  to  your  satisfaction,  so  far?" 

"Not  a  doubt  of  it,  Mr.  Murthwaite !  I  am  waiting,  how- 
ever, with  some  anxiety  to  hear  the  rational  explanation  of 
the  difficulty  which  I  have  just  had  the  honor  of  submitting 
to  you." 

Mr.  Murthwaite  smiled.  "It's  the  easiest  difficulty  to  deal 
with  of  all,"  he  said.  "Permit  me  to  begin  by  admitting  your 
statement  of  the  case  as  a  perfectly  correct  one.  The  Indians 
were  undoubtedly  not  aware  of  what  Mr.  Franklin  Blake  had 
done  with  the  Diamond — for  we  find  them  making  their  first 
mistake,  on  the  first  night  of  Mr.  Blake's  arrival  at  his  aunt's 
house." 

"Their  first  mistake?"  I  repeated. 

"Certainly !  The  mistake  of  allowing  themselves  to  be 
surprised,  lurking  about  the  terrace  at  night,  by  Gabriel  Bet- 
teredge.  However,  they  had  the  merit  of  seeing  for  them- 
selves that  they  had  taken  a  false  step — for,  as  you  say,  again, 
with  plenty  of  time  at  their  disposal,  they  never  came  near 
the  house  for  weeks  afterward." 

"Why,  Mr.  Murthwaite?  That's  what  I  want  to  know. 
Why?" 

"Because  no  Indian,  Mr.  Bruff,  ever  runs  an  unnecessary 
risk.  The  clause  you  drew  in  Colonel  Herncastle's  will,  in- 
formed them — didn't  it? — that  the  Moonstone  was  to  pass 
absolutely  into  Miss  Verinder's  possession  on  her  birthday. 
Very  well.  Tell  me  which  was  the  safest  course  for  men  in 
their  position  ?  To  make  their  attempt  on  the  Diamond  while 
it  was  under  the  control  of  Mr.  Franklin  Blake,  who  had 
shown  already  that  he  could  suspect  and  outwit  them,  or  to 
wait  till  the  Diamond  was  at  the  disposal  of  a  young  girl, 
who  would  innocently  delight  in  wearing  the  magnificent 
jewel  at  every  possible  opportunity?  Perhaps  you  want  a 
proof  that  my  theory  is  correct?  Take  the  conduct  of  the 
Indians  themselves  as  the  proof.  They  appeared  at  the  house, 
after  waiting  all  those  weeks,  on  Miss  Verinder's  birthday ; 
and  they  were  rewarded  for  the  patient  accuracy  of  their  cal- 
culations by  seeing  the  Moonstone  in  the  bosom  of  her  dress ! 
When  I  heard  the  story  of  the  Colonel  and  the  Diamond, 
later  in  the  evening,  I  felt  so  sure  about  the  risk  Mr.  Franklin 

315 


THE  MOONSTONE 

Blake  had  run — they  would  have  certainly  attacked  him,  if 
he  had  not  happened  to  ride  back  to  Lady  Verinder's  in  the 
company  of  other  people — and  I  was  so  strongly  convinced 
of  the  worse  risks  still  in  store  for  Miss  Verindcr,  that  I 
recommended  following  the  Colonel's  plan,  and  destroying 
the  identity  of  the  gem  by  having  it  cut  into  separate  stones. 
How  its  extraordinary  disappearance,  that  night,  made  my 
advice  useless  and  utterly  defeated  the  Hindoo  plot — and  how 
all  further  action  on  the  part  of  the  Indians  was  paralyzcfl 
the  next  day  by  their  confinement  in  prison  as  rogues  and 
vagabonds — you  know  as  well  as  I  do.  The  first  act  in  the 
conspiracy  closes  there.  Before  we  go  on  to  the  second,  may 
I  ask  whether  I  have  met  your  difficulty  with  an  explanation 
which  is  satisfactory  to  the  mind  of  a  practical  man  ?" 

It  was  impossible  to  deny  that  he  had  met  my  difficulty 
fairly;  thanks  to  his  superior  knowledge  of  the  Indian  char- 
acter— and  thanks  to  his  not  having  hundreds  of  other  wills 
to  think  of  since  Colonel  Herncastle's  time ! 

"So  far,  so  good,"  resumed  Mr.  Murthwaite.  "The  first 
chance  the  Indians  had  of  seizing  the  Diamond  was  a  chance 
lost,  on  the  day  when  they  were  committed  to  the  prison  at 
Frizinghall.  When  did  the  second  chance  offer  itself?  The 
second  chance  offered  itself — as  I  am  in  a  condition  to  prove 
— while  they  were  still  in  confinement." 

He  took  out  his  pocket-book,  and  opened  it  at  a  particular 
leaf,  before  he  went  on. 

"I  was  staying,"  he  resumed,  "with  some  friends  at  Friz- 
inghall at  the  time.  A  day  or  two  before  the  Indians  were 
set  free,  on  a  Monday,  I  think,  the  governor  of  the  prison 
came  to  me  with  a  letter.  It  had  been  left  for  the  Indians 
by  one  Mrs.  Macann,  of  whom  they  had  hired  the  lodging  in 
which  they  lived ;  and  it  had  been  delivered  at  Mrs.  Macann's 
door,  in  ordinary  course  of  post,  on  the  previous  morning. 
The  prison  authorities  had  noticed  that  the  post-mark  was 
'Lambeth,'  and  that  the  address  on  the  outside,  though  ex- 
pressed in  correct  English,  was,  in  form,  oddly  at  variance 
with  the  customary  method  of  directing  a  letter.  On  opening 
it,  they  had  found  the  contents  to  be  written  in  a  foreign  lan- 
guage, which  they  rightly  guessed  at  as  Hindoostanee.  Their 
object  in  coming  to  me  was,  of  course,  to  have  the  letter 

316 


THE  MOONSTONE 

translated  to  them.  I  took  a  copy  in  my  pocket-book  of  the 
original  and  of  my  translation — and  there  they  are  at  your 
service." 

He  handed  me  the  open  pocket-book.  The  address  on  the 
letter  was  the  first  thing  copied.  It  was  all  written  in  one 
paragraph,  without  any  attempt  at  punctuation,  thus :  "To 
the  three  Indian  men  living  with  the  lady  called  IMacann  at 
Frizinghall  in  Yorkshire."  The  Hindoo  characters  followed ; 
and  the  English  translation  appeared  at  the  end,  expressed 
in  these  mysterious  words : 

'Tn  the  name  of  the  Regent  of  the  Night,  whose  seat  is 
on  the  Antelope,  whose  arms  embrace  the  four  corners  of  the 
earth. 

"Brothers,  turn  your  faces  to  the  south,  and  come  to  me 
in  the  street  of  many  noises,  which  leads  down  to  the  muddy 
river. 

"The  reason  is  this. 

"My  own  eyes  have  seen  it." 

There  the  letter  ended,  without  either  date  or  signature. 
I  handed  it  back  to  Mr.  Murthwaite  and  owned  that  this 
curious  specimen  of  Hindoo  correspondence  rather  puzzled 
me. 

"I  can  explain  the  first  sentence  to  you,"  he  said ;  "and  the 
conduct  of  the  Indians  themselves  will  explain  the  rest.  The 
god  of  the  moon  is  represented,  in  the  Hindoo  mythology,  as 
a  four-armed  deity,  seated  on  an  antelope ;  and  one  of  his 
titles  is  the  regent  of  the  night.  Here,  then,  to  begin  with, 
is  something  which  looks  suspiciously  like  an  indirect  refer- 
ence to  the  Moonstone.  Now,  let  us  see  what  the  Indians 
did,  after  the  prison  authorities  had  allowed  them  to  receive 
their  letter.  On  the  very  day  when  they  were  set  free  they 
went  at  once  to  the  railway  station,  and  took  their  places  in 
the  first  train  that  started  for  London.  We  all  thought  it 
a  pity  at  Frizinghall  that  their  proceedings  were  not  privately 
watched.  But,  after  Lady  Verinder  had  dismissed  the  police 
officer  and  had  stopped  all  further  inquiry  into  the  loss  of 
the  Diamond,  no  one  else  could  presume  to  stir  in  the  matter. 
The  Indians  were  free  to  go  to  London,  and  to  London  they 
went.  What  was  the  next  news  we  heard  of  them,  Mr. 
Bruflf?" 

317 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"They  were  annoying  Mr.  Luker,"  I  answered,  "by  loiter- 
ing about  his  house  at  Lambeth." 

"Did  you  read  the  report  of  Mr.  Luker's  appHcation  to 
the  magistrate?" 

"Yes." 

"In  the  course  of  his  statement  he  referred,  if  you  remem- 
ber, to  a  foreign  workman  in  his  employment,  whom  he  had 
just  dismissed  on  suspicion  of  attempted  theft,  and  whom 
he  also  distrusted  as  possibly  acting  in  collusion  with  the 
Indians  who  had  annoyed  him.  The  inference  is  pretty  plain, 
Mr.  Brufif,  as  to  who  wrote  that  letter  which  puzzled  you 
just  now  and  as  to  which  of  Mr.  Luker's  Oriental  treasures 
the  workman  had  attempted  to  steal." 

The  inference,  as  I  hastened  to  acknowledge,  was  too  plain 
to  need  being  pointed  out.  I  had  never  doubted  that  the 
Moonstone  had  found  its  way  into  Mr.  Luker's  hands  at  the 
time  to  which  Mr.  Murthwaite  alluded.  My  only  question 
had  been,  How  had  the  Indians  discovered  the  circumstance? 
This  question — ihe  most  difficult  to  deal  with  of  all,  as  I 
had  thought — had  now  received  its  answer,  like  the  rest. 
Lawyer  as  I  was,  I  began  to  feel  that  I  might  trust  Mr. 
Murthwaite  to  lead  me  blindfold  through  the  last  windings 
of  the  labyrinth,  along  which  he  had  guided  me  thus  far.  I 
paid  him  the  compliment  of  telling  him  this  and  found  my 
little  concession  very  graciously  received. 

"You  shall  give  me  a  piece  of  information  in  your  turn 
before  we  go  on,"  he  said.  "Somebody  must  have  taken  the 
Moonstone  from  Yorkshire  to  London.  And  somebody  must 
have  raised  money  on  it,  or  it  would  never  have  been  in  ]\Ir. 
Luker's  possession.  Has  there  been  any  discovery  made  of 
who  that  person  was?" 

"None  that  I  know  of." 

"There  was  a  story,  was  there  not,  about  Mr.  Godfrey 
Ablewhite?  I  am  told  he  is  an  eminent  philanthropist — 
which  is  decidedly  against  him,  to  begin  with." 

I  heartily  agreed  in  this  with  Mr.  Murthwaite.  At  the 
same  time  I  felt  bound  to  inform  him,  without,  it  is  needless 
to  say,  mentioning  Miss  Verinder's  name,  that  Mr.  Godfrey 
Ablewhite  had  been  cleared  of  all  suspicion,  on  evidence 
which  I  could  answer  for  as  entirely  beyond  dispute. 

318 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Very  well,"  said  Mr.  Murthwaite,  quietly,  "let  us  leave 
it  to  time  to  clear  the  matter  up.  In  the  mean  while,  Mr. 
Bruff,  we  must  get  back  again  to  the  Indians,  on  your  account. 
Their  journey  to  London  simply  ended  in  their  becoming  the 
victims  of  another  defeat.  The  loss  of  their  second  chance 
of  seizing  the  Diamond  is  mainly  attributable,  as  I  think,  to 
the  cunning  and  foresight  of  Mr.  Luker — who  doesn't  stand 
at  the  top  of  the  prosperous  and  ancient  profession  of  usury 
for  nothing!  By  the  prompt  dismissal  of  the  man  in  his  em- 
ployment, he  deprived  the  Indians  of  the  assistance  which 
their  confederate  would  have  rendered  them  in  getting  into 
the  house.  By  the  prompt  transport  of  the  Moonstone  to  his 
banker's,  he  took  the  conspirators  by  surprise  before  they 
were  prepared  with  a  new  plan  for  robbing  him.  How  the 
Indians,  in  this  latter  case,  suspected  what  he  had  done  and 
how  they  contrived  to  possess  themselves  of  his  banker's  re- 
ceipt, are  events  too  recent  to  need  dwelling  on.  Let  it  be 
enough  to  say  that  they  know  the  Moonstone  to  be  once  more 
out  of  their  reach ;  deposited,  under  the  general  description 
of  'a.  valuable  gem,'  in  a  banker's  strong-room.  Now,  Mr. 
Bruff,  what  is  their  third  chance  of  seizing  the  Diamond  ?  and 
when  will  it  come?" 

As  the  question  passed  his  lips,  I  penetrated  the  motive  of 
the  Indian's  visit  to  my  office  at  last ! 

"I  see  it !"  I  exclaimed.  "The  Indians  take  it  for  granted 
as  we  do,  that  the  Moonstone  has  been  pledged :  and  they 
want  to  be  certainly  informed  of  the  earliest  period  at  which 
the  pledge  can  be  redeemed — because  that  will  be  the  earliest 
period  at  which  the  Diamond  can  be  removed  from  the  safe- 
keeping of  the  bank !" 

"I  told  you  you  would  find  it  out  for  yourself,  IMr.  BrufF, 
if  I  only  gave  you  a  fair  chance.  In  a  year  from  the  time 
when  the  Moonstone  was  pledged,  the  Indians  will  be  on  the 
watch  for  their  third  chance.  Mr.  Luker's  own  lips  have 
told  them  how  long  they  will  have  to  wait,  and  your  respecta- 
ble authority  has  satisfied  them  that  Mr.  Luker  has  spoken 
the  truth.  When  do  we  suppose,  at  a  rough  guess,  that  the 
Diamond  found  its  way  into  the  money-lender's  hands  ?" 

"Toward  the  end  of  last  June,"  I  answered,  "as  well  as  I 
can  reckon  it." 

319 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"And  we  are  now  in  the  year  'forty-eight.  Very  good.  If 
the  unknown  person  who  has  pledged  the  Moonstone  can  re- 
deem it  in  a  year,  the  jewel  will  be  in  that  person's  possession 
again  at  the  end  of  June,  'forty-nine.  I  shall  be  thousands 
of  miles  away  from  England  and  English  news  at  that  date. 
But  it  may  be  worth  yotir  while  to  take  a  note  of  it,  and  to 
arrange  to  be  in  London  at  the  time." 

"You  think  something  serious  will  happen?"  I  said. 

"I  think  I  shall  be  safer,"  he  answered,  "among  the  fiercest 
fanatics  of  Central  Asia  than  I  should  be  if  I  crossed  the 
door  of  the  bank  with  the  Moonstone  in  my  pocket.  The 
Indians  have  been  defeated  twice  running,  Mr.  Bruff.  It's 
my  firm  belief  that  they  won't  be  defeated  a  third  time." 

Those  were  the  last  words  he  said  on  the  subject.  The 
cofifee  came  in ;  the  guests  rose,  and  dispersed  themselves 
around  the  room;  and  we  joined  the  ladies  of  the  dinner- 
party up  stairs. 

I  made  a  note  of  the  date,  and  it  may  not  be  amiss  if  I 
close  my  narrative  by  repeating  that  note  here : 

June,  'forty-nine.  Expect  news  of  the  Indians,  toward  the 
end  of  the  month. 

And  that  done,  I  hand  the  pen,  which  I  have  now  no  further 
claim  to  use,  to  the  writer  who  follows  me  next. 


THIRD    NARRATIVE 

Contributed  by  Franklin  Blake. 


CHAPTER   I. 


IN  the  spring  of  the  year  eighteen  hundred  and  forty-nine  I 
was  wandering  in  the  East,  and  had  then  recently  altered 
the  traveling  plans  which  I  had  laid  out  some  months  before 
and  which  I  had  communicated  to  my  lawyer  and  my  banker 
in  London. 

This  change  made  it  necessary  for  me  to  send  one  of  my 

320 


THE  MOONSTONE 

servants  to  obtain  my  letters  and  remittances  from  the  Eng- 
lish consul  in  a  certain  city,  which  was  no  longer  included 
as  one  of  my  resting-places  in  my  new  traveling  scheme.  The 
man  was  to  join  me  again  at  an  appointed  place  and  time. 
An  accident,  for  which  he  was  not  responsible,  delayed  him 
on  his  errand.  For  a  week  I  and  my  people  waited,  en- 
camped on  the  borders  of  a  desert.  At  the  end  of  that  time 
the  missing  man  made  his  appearance,  with  the  money  and 
the  letters,  at  the  entrance  of  my  tent. 

'T  am  afraid  I  bring  you  bad  news,  sir,"  he  said,  and 
pointed  to  one  of  the  letters,  which  had  a  mourning  border 
round  it  and  the  address  on  which  was  in  the  handwriting  of 
Mr.  Brufif. 

I  know  nothing,  in  a  case  of  this  kind,  so  unendurable  as 
suspense.  The  letter  with  the  mourning  border  was  the  letter 
that  I  opened  first. 

It  informed  me  that  my  father  was  dead  and  that  I  was 
heir  to  his  great  fortune.  The  wealth  which  had  thus  fallen 
into  my  hands  brought  its  responsibilities  with  it ;  and  Mr. 
Brufif  entreated  me  to  lose  no  time  in  returning  to  England. 

By  day-break  the  next  morning  I  was  on  my  way  back  to 
my  own  country. 

The  picture  presented  of  me  by  my  old  friend  Betteredge, 
at  the  time  of  my  departure  from  England,  is,  as  I  think,  a 
little  overdrawn.  He  has,  in  his  own  quaint  way,  interpreted 
seriously  one  of  his  young  mistress's  many  satirical  references 
to  my  foreign  education;  and  has  persuaded  himself  that  he 
actually  saw  those  French,  German,  and  Italian  sides  to  my 
character,  which  my  lively  cousin  only  professed  to  discover 
in  jest,  and  which  never  had  any  real  existence,  except  in  our 
good  Betteredge's  own  brain.  But,  barring  the  drawback,  I 
am  bound  to  own  that  he  has  stated  no  more  than  the  truth 
in  representing  me  as  wounded  to  the  heart  by  Rachel's  treat- 
ment and  as  leaving  England  in  the  first  keenness  of  suffering 
caused  by  the  bitterest  disappointment  of  my  life. 

I  went  abroad,  resolved — if  change  and  absence  could  help 
me — to  forget  her.  It  is,  I  am  persuaded,  no  true  view  of 
human  nature  which  denies  that  change  and  absence  do  help 
a  man  under  these  circumstances :  they  force  his  attention 

21  321 


THE  MOONSTONE 

away  from  the  exclusive  contemplation  of  his  own  sorrow. 
I  never  forgot  her ;  but  the  pang  of  remembrance  lost  its 
worst  bitterness,  little  by  little,  as  time,  distance,  and  novelty 
interposed  themselves  more  and  more  effectually  between 
Rachel  and  me. 

On  the  other  hand,  it  is  no  less  certain  that,  with  the  act 
of  turning  homeward,  the  remedy  which  had  gained  its 
ground  so  steadily,  began  now,  just  as  steadily,  to  drop  back. 
The  nearer  I  drew  to  the  country  which  she  inhabited  and 
to  the  prospect  of  seeing  her  again,  the  more  irresistibly  her 
influence  began  to  recover  its  hold  on  me.  On  leaving  Eng- 
land, she  was  the  last  person  in  the  world  whose  name  I  would 
have  suffered  to  pass  my  lips.  On  returning  to  England,  she 
was  the  first  person  I  inquired  after  when  Mr.  Bruff  and  I 
met  again. 

I  was  informed,  of  course,  of  all  that  had  happened  in  my 
absence :  in  other  words,  of  all  that  has  been  related  here  in 
continuation  of  Betteredge's  narrative — one  circumstance 
only  being  excepted.  Mr.  Bruff  did  not,  at  that  time,  feel 
himself  at  liberty  to  inform  me  of  the  motives  which  had 
privately  influenced  Rachel  and  Godfrey  Ablewhite,  in  re- 
calling the  marriage  promise,  on  either  side.  I  troubled  him 
with  no  embarrassing  questions  on  this  delicate  subject.  It 
was  relief  enough  to  me,  after  the  jealous  disappointment 
caused  by  hearing  that  she  had  ever  contemplated  being  God- 
frey's wife,  to  know  that  reflection  had  convicted  her  of  acting 
rashly  and  that  she  had  effected  her  own  release  from  her 
marriage  engagement. 

Having  heard  the  story  of  the  past,  my  next  inquiries — 
still  inquiries  after  Rachel ! — advanced  naturally  to  the  pres- 
ent time.  Under  whose  care  had  she  been  placed  after  leaving 
Mr.  Bruff's  house?  and  where  was  she  living  now? 

She  was  living  under  the  care  of  a  widowed  sister  of  the 
late  Sir  John  Verinder — one  Mrs.  Merridew — whom  her 
mother's  executors  had  requested  to  act  as  guardian  and  who 
had  accepted  the  proposal.  They  were  reported  to  me  as 
getting  on  together  admirably  well  and  as  being  now  cstr^h- 
lished,  for  the  season,  in  Mrs.  Merridew's  house  in  Portland 
Place. 

Half  an  hour  after  receiving  this  information  I  was  on  my 

322 


THE  MOONSTONE 

way  to  Portland  Place,  without  having  had  the  courage  to 
own  it  to  Mr.  Bruff! 

The  man  who  answered  the  door  was  not  sure  whether 
Miss  Verinder  was  at  home  or  not.  I  sent  him  up  stairs  with 
my  card,  as  the  speediest  way  of  setting  the  question  at  rest. 
The  man  came  down  again  with  an  impenetrable  face  and 
informed  me  that  Miss  Verinder  was  out.  I  might  have 
suspected  other  people  of  purposely  denying  themselves  to 
me.  But  it  was  impossible  to  suspect  Rachel.  I  left  word 
that  I  would  call  again  at  six  o'clock  that  evening. 

At  six  o'clock  I  was  informed,  for  the  second  time,  that 
Miss  Verinder  was  not  at  home.  Had  any  message  been  left 
for  me?  No  message  had  been  left  for  me.  Had  Miss  Ver- 
inder not  received  my  card?  The  servant  begged  my  pardon 
— Miss  Verinder  had  received  it. 

The  inference  was  too  plain  to  be  resisted.  Rachel  declined 
to  see  me. 

On  my  side  I  declined  to  be  treated  in  this  way  without 
making  an  attempt,  at  least,  to  discover  a  reason  for  it.  I 
sent  up  my  name  to  Mrs.  Merridew,  and  requested  her  to 
favor  me  with  a  personal  interview  at  any  hour  which  it 
might  be  most  convenient  to  her  to  name. 

Mrs.  Merridew  made  no  difficulty  about  receiving  me  at 
once.  I  was  shown  into  a  comfortable  little  sitting-room, 
and  found  myself  in  the  presence  of  a  comfortable  little  elderly 
lady.  She  was  so  good  as  to  feel  great  regret  and  much  sur- 
prise, entirely  on  my  account.  She  was  at  the  same  time, 
however,  not  in  a  position  to  offer  me  any  explanation,  or  to 
press  Rachel  on  a  matter  which  appeared  to  relate  to  a  ques- 
tion of  private  feeling  alone.  This  was  said  over  and  over 
again,  with  a  polite  patience  that  nothing  could  tire ;  and  this 
was  all  I  gained  by  applying  to  Mrs.  Merridew. 

My  last  chance  was  to  write  to  Rachel.  My  servant  took 
a  letter  to  her  the  next  day,  with  strict  instructions  to  wait 
for  an  answer. 

The  answer  came  back,  literally  in  one  sentence. 

"IMiss  Verinder  begs  to  decline  entering  into  any  corre- 
spondence with  Mr.  Franklin  Blake." 

Fond  as  I  was  of  her,  T  felt  indignantly  the  insult  offered 
to  me  in  that  reply.     Mr.  Bruff  came  in  to  speak  to  me  on 

3^3 


THE  MOONSTONE 

business  before  I  had  recovered  possession  of  myself.  I  dis- 
missed the  business  on  the  spot,  and  laid  the  whole  case  before 
him.  He  proved  to  be  as  incapable  of  enlightening  me  as 
Mrs.  Merridew  herself.  I  asked  him  if  any  slander  had  been 
spoken  of  me  in  Rachel's  hearing.  Mr.  Bruff  was  not  aware 
of  any  slander  of  which  I  was  the  object.  Had  she  referred 
to  me  in  any  way  while  she  was  staying  under  Mr.  BruflF's 
roof  ?  Never.  Had  she  not  so  much  as  asked,  during  all  my 
long  absence,  whether  I  was  living  or  dead  ?  No  such  ques- 
tion had  ever  passed  her  lips. 

I  took  out  of  my  pocket-book  the  letter  which  poor  Lady 
Verinder  had  written  to  me  from  Frizinghall,  on  the  day 
when  I  left  her  house  in  Yorkshire.  And  I  pointed  Mr. 
Bruff 's  attention  to  these  two  sentences  in  it : 

"The  valuable  assistance  which  you  rendered  to  the  inquiry 
after  the  lost  jewel  is  still  an  unpardoned  offense,  in  the  pres- 
ent dreadful  state  of  Rachel's  mind.  Moving  blindfold  in 
this  matter,  you  have  added  to  the  burden  of  anxiety  which 
she  has  had  to  bear,  by  innocently  threatening  her  secret  with 
discovery  through  your  exertions." 

"Is  it  possible,"  I  asked,  "that  the  feeling  toward  me  which 
is  there  described  is  still  as  bitter  as  ever  against  me  now?" 

Mr.  Bruif  looked  unaffectedly  distressed. 

"If  you  insist  on  an  answer,"  he  said,  "I  own  I  can  place 
no  other  interpretation  on  her  conduct  than  that." 

I  rang  the  bell,  and  directed  my  servant  to  pack  my  port- 
manteau, and  to  send  out  for  a  railway  guide.  Mr.  Bruff 
asked,  in  astonishment,  what  I  was  going  to  do. 

"I  am  going  to  Yorkshire,"  I  answered,  "by  the  next 
train." 

"May  I  ask  for  what  purpose?" 

"Mr.  Bruff,  the  assistance  I  innocently  rendered  to  the  in- 
quiry after  the  Diamond  was  an  unpardoned  offense  in 
Rachel's  mind,  nearly  a  year  since,  and  it  remains  an  unpar- 
doned offense  still.  I  won't  accept  that  position !  I  am  deter- 
mined to  find  out  the  secret  of  her  silence  toward  her  mother, 
and  her  enmity  toward  me.  If  time,  pains,  and  money  can 
do  it,  I  will  lay  my  hand  on  the  thief  who  took  the  Moon- 
stone !" 

The  worthy  old  gentleman  attempted  to  remonstrate — to 

324 


THE  MOONSTONE 

induce  me  to  listen  to  reason — to  do  his  duty  toward  me,  in 
short.  I  was  deaf  to  every  thing  that  he  could  urge.  No 
earthly  consideration  would,  at  that  moment,  have  shaken  the 
resolution  that  was  in  me. 

"I  shall  take  up  the  inquiry  again,"  I  went  on,  "at  the 
point  where  I  dropped  it;  and  I  shall  follow  it  onward,  step 
by  step,  till  I  come  to  the  present  time.  There  are  missing 
links  in  the  evidence,  as  /  left  it,  which  Gabriel  Betteredge 
can  supply.     And  to  Gabriel  Betteredge  I  go !" 

Toward  sunset,  that  evening,  I  stood  again  on  the  well- 
remembered  terrace,  and  looked  once  more  at  the  peaceful 
old  country  house.  The  gardener  was  the  first  person  whom 
I  saw  in  the  deserted  grounds.  He  had  left  Betteredge,  an 
hour  since,  sunning  himself  in  the  customary  corner  of  the 
back  yard.  I  knew  it  well ;  and  I  said  I  would  go  and  seek 
him  myself. 

I  walked  round  by  the  familiar  paths  and  passages,  and 
looked  in  at  the  open  gate  of  the  yard. 

There  he  was — the  dear  old  friend  of  the  happy  days  that 
were  never  to  come  again — there  he  was  in  the  old  corner, 
on  the  old  bee-hive  chair,  with  his  pipe  in  his  mouth,  and  his 
Robinson  Crusoe  on  his  lap,  and  his  two  friends,  the  dogs, 
dozing  on  either  side  of  him  !  In  the  position  in  which  I  stood, 
my  shadow  was  projected  in  front  of  me  by  the  last  slanting 
rays  of  the  sun.  Either  the  dogs  saw  it,  or  their  keen  scent 
informed  them  of  my  approach.  They  started  up  with  a 
growl.  Starting  in  his  turn,  the  old  man  quieted  them  by  a 
word,  and  then  shaded  his  failing  eyes  with  his  hand  and 
looked  inquiringly  at  the  figure  at  the  gate. 

My  own  eyes  were  full  of  tears.  I  was  obliged  to  wait 
for  a  moment  before  I  could  trust  myself  to  speak  to  him. 


CHAPTER   II. 

BETTEREDGE!"  I  said,  pointing  to  the  well-remem- 
bered book  on  his  knee,  "has  Robinson  Crusoe  informed 
you,  this  evening,  that  you  might  expect  to  see  Franklin 
Blake?" 

325 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"By  the  lord  Harry,  Mr.  Franklin !"  cried  the  old  man, 
"that's  exactly  what  Robinson  Crusoe  has  done !" 

He  struggled  to  his  feet  with  my  assistance  and  stood  for 
a  moment,  looking  backward  and  forward  between  Robinson 
Crusoe  and  me,  apparently  at  a  loss  to  discover  which  of  us 
had  surprised  him  most.  The  verdict  ended  in  favor  of  the 
book.  Holding  it  open  before  him  in  both  hands,  he  sur- 
veyed the  wonderful  volume  with  a  stare  of  unutterable 
anticipation — as  if  he  expected  to  see  Robinson  Crusoe  him- 
self walk  out  of  the  pages  and  favor  us  with  a  personal  inter- 
view. 

"Here's  the  bit,  Mr,  Franklin !"  he  said,  as  soon  as  he  had 
recovered  the  use  of  his  speech.  "As  I  live  by  bread,  sir, 
here's  the  bit  I  was  reading  the  moment  before  you  came  in ! 
Page  one  hundred  and  fifty-six  as  follows :  T  stood  like  one 
Thunderstruck,  or  as  if  I  had  seen  an  Apparition.'  If  that 
isn't  as  much  as  to  say :  'Expect  the  sudden  appearance  of 
Mr.  Franklin  Blake' — there's  no  meaning  in  the  English  lan- 
guage !"  said  Betteredge,  closing  the  book  with  a  bang,  and 
getting  one  of  his  hands  free  at  last  to  take  the  hand  which 
I  offered  him. 

I  had  expected  him,  naturally  enough  under  the  circum- 
stances, to  overwhelm  me  with  questions.  But  no — the  hos- 
pitable impulse  was  the  uppermost  impulse  in  the  old  servant's 
mind,  when  a  member  of  the  family  appeared,  no  matter  how, 
as  a  visitor  at  the  house. 

"Walk  in,  Mr.  Franklin,"  he  said,  opening  the  door  behind 
him,  with  his  quaint  old-fashioned  bow.  "Fll  ask  what  brings 
you  here  afterward — I  must  make  you  comfortable  first. 
There  have  been  sad  changes  since  you  went  away.  The 
house  is  shut  up,  and  the  servants  are  gone.  Never  mind 
that !  Fll  cook  your  dinner  and  the  gardener's  wife  will  make 
your  bed — and  if  there's  a  bottle  of  our  famous  Latour  claret 
left  in  the  cellar,  down  your  throat,  Mr.  Franklin,  that  bottle 
shall  go.  I  bid  you  welcome,  sir !  I  bid  you  heartily  wel- 
come!" said  the  poor  old  fellow,  fighting  manfully  against 
the  gloom  of  the  deserted  house,  and  receiving  me  with  the 
sociable  and  courteous  attention  of  the  by-gone  time. 

It  vexed  me  to  disappoint  him.  But  the  house  was  Rachel's 
house  now.     Could  I  eat  in  it  or  sleep  in  it  after  what  had 

326 


THE  MOONSTONE 

happened  in  London?  The  commonest  sense  of  self-respect 
forbade  me — properly  forbade  me — to  cross  the  threshold. 

I  took  Betteredge  by  the  arm  and  led  him  out  into  the 
garden.  There  was  no  help  for  it.  I  was  obliged  to  tell  him 
the  truth.  Between  his  attachment  to  Rachel  and  his  attach- 
ment to  me,  he  was  sorely  puzzled  and  distressed  at  the  turn 
that  things  had  taken.  His  opinion,  when  he  expressed  it, 
was  given  in  his  usual  downright  manner,  and  was  agreeably 
redolent  of  the  most  positive  philosophy  I  know — the  philos- 
ophy of  the  Betteredge  school. 

"Miss  Rachel  has  her  faults — I've  never  denied  it,"  he  be- 
gan. "And  riding  the  high  horse,  now  and  then,  is  one  of 
them.  She  has  been  trying  to  ride  over  yon — and  you  have 
put  up  with  it.  Lord,  Mr.  Franklin,  don't  you  know  women 
by  this  time  better  than  that?  You  have  heard  me  talk  of 
the  late  Mrs.  Betteredge?" 

I  had  heard  him  talk  of  the  late  Mrs.  Betteredge  pretty 
often — invariably  producing  her  as  his  one  undeniable  exam- 
ple of  the  inbred  frailty  and  perversity  of  the  other  sex.  In 
that  capacity  he  exhibited  her  now. 

"Very  well,  Mr.  Franklin.  Now  listen  to  me.  Different 
women  have  different  ways  of  riding  the  high  horse.  The 
late  Mrs.  Betteredge  took  her  exercise  on  that  favorite  female 
animal  whenever  I  happened  to  deny  her  any  thing  that  she 
had  set  her  heart  on.  So  sure  as  I  came  home  from  my  work 
on  these  occasions,  so  sure  was  my  wife  to  call  to  me  up  the 
kitchen  stairs,  and  to  say  that,  after  my  brutal  treatment  of 
her,  she  hadn't  the  heart  to  cook  me  my  dinner.  I  put  up 
with  it  for  some  time — just  as  you  are  putting  up  with  it  now 
from  Miss  Rachel.  At  last  my  patience  wore  out.  I  went 
down  stairs,  and  I  took  Mrs.  Betteredge — affectionately,  you 
understand — up  in  my  arms,  and  carried  her,  holus-bolus,  into 
the  best  parlor,  where  she  received  her  company.  I  said, 
'That's  the  right  place  for  you,  my  dear,'  and  so  went  back 
to  the  kitchen.  I  locked  myself  in,  and  took  off  my  coat, 
and  turned  up  my  shirt-sleeves,  and  cooked  my  own  dinner. 
When  it  was  done  I  served  it  up  in  my  best  manner,  and 
enjoyed  it  most  heartily.  I  had  my  pipe  and  my  drop  of  grog 
afterward  ;  and  then  I  cleared  the  table,  and  washed  the  crock- 
cry,  and  cleaned  the  knives  and  forks,  and  put  the  things 

327 


THE  MOONSTONE 

away,  and  swept  up  the  hearth.  When  things  were  as  bright 
and  clean  again,  as  bright  and  clean  could  be,  I  opened  the 
door  and  let  Mrs.  Betteredge  in.  'I've  had  my  dinner,  my 
dear,'  I  said ;  'and  I  hope  you  will  find  I  have  left  the  kitchen 
all  that  your  fondest  wishes  can  desire.'  For  the  rest  of  that 
woman's  life,  Mr.  Franklin,  I  never  had  to  cook  my  dinner 
again !  Moral :  You  have  put  up  with  Miss  Rachel  in  Lon- 
don ;  don't  put  up  with  her  in  Yorkshire.  Come  back  to  the 
house." 

Quite  unanswerable !  I  could  only  assure  my  good  friend 
that  even  his  powers  of  persuasion  were,  in  this  case,  thrown 
away  on  me. 

"It's  a  lovely  evening,"  I  said.  'T  shall  walk  to  Frizing- 
hall,  and  stay  at  the  hotel,  and  you  must  come  to-morrow 
morning  and  breakfast  with  me.  I  have  something  to  say 
to  you." 

Betteredge  shook  his  head  gravely. 

"I  am  heartily  sorry  for  this,"  he  said.  "I  had  hoped,  Mr. 
Franklin,  to  hear  that  things  were  all  smooth  and  pleasant 
again  between  you  and  Miss  Rachel.  If  you  must  have  your 
own  way,  sir,"  he  continued,  after  a  moment's  reflection, 
"there  is  no  need  to  go  to  Frizinghall  to-night  for  a  bed.  It's 
to  be  had  nearer  than  that.  There's  Hotherstone's  Farm, 
barely  two  miles  from  here.  You  can  hardly  object  to  that 
on  Miss  Rachel's  account,"  the  old  man  added,  slyly.  "Hoth- 
erstone  lives,  Mr.  Franklin,  on  his  own  freehold." 

I  remembered  the  place  the  moment  Betteredge  mentioned 
it.  The  farm-house  stood  in  a  sheltered  inland  valley,  on 
the  banks  of  the  prettiest  stream  in  that  part  of  Yorkshire ; 
and  the  farmer  had  a  spare  bedroom  and  parlor,  which  he 
was  accustomed  to  let  to  artists,  anglers,  and  tourists  in  gen- 
eral. A  more  agreeable  place  of  abode,  during  my  stay  in 
the  neighborhood,  I  could  not  have  wished  to  find. 

"Are  the  rooms  to  let?"  I  inquired. 

"Mrs.  Hotherstone  herself,  sir,  asked  for  my  good  word 
to  recommend  the  rooms  yesterday." 

"I'll  take  them,  Betteredge,  with  the  greatest  pleasure." 

We  went  back  to  the  yard,  in  which  I  had  left  my  traveling- 
bag.  After  putting  a  stick  through  the  handle  and  swinging 
the  bag  over  his  shoulder,  Betteredge  appeared  to  relapse 

328 


THE  MOONSTONE 

into  the  bewilderment  which  my  sudden  appearance  had 
caused  when  I  surprised  him  in  the  bee-hive  chair.  He  looked 
incredulously  at  the  house,  and  then  he  wheeled  about  and 
looked  more  incredulously  still  at  me. 

"I've  lived  a  goodish  long  time  in  the  world,"  said  this 
best  and  dearest  of  all  old  servants — "but  the  like  of  this  I 
never  did  expect  to  see.  There  stands  the  house,  and  here 
stands  Mr.  Franklin  Blake — and,  damme,  if  one  of  them 
isn't  turning  his  back  on  the  other,  and  going  to  sleep  in  a 
lodging!" 

He  led  the  way  out,  wagging  his  head  and  growling  omi- 
nously. "There's  only  one  more  miracle  that  can  happen," 
he  said  to  me,  over  his  shoulder.  "The  next  thing  you'll  do, 
Mr.  Franklin,  will  be  to  pay  me  back  that  seven-and-sixpence 
you  borrowed  of  me  when  you  were  a  boy." 

This  stroke  of  sarcasm  put  him  in  a  better  humor  with 
himself  and  with  me.  We  left  the  house  and  passed  through 
the  lodge-gates.  Once  clear  of  the  grounds,  the  duties  of 
hospitality,  in  Betteredge's  code  of  morals,  ceased,  and  the 
privileges  of  curiosity  began. 

He  dropped  back,  so  as  to  let  me  get  on  a  level  with  him. 
"Fine  evening  for  a  walk,  Mr.  Franklin,"  he  said,  as  if  we 
had  just  accidentally  encountered  each  other  at  that  moment. 
"Supposing  you  had  gone  to  the  hotel  at  Frizinghall,  sir?" 

"Yes?" 

"I  should  have  had  the  honor  of  breakfasting  with  you  to- 
morrow morning." 

"Come  and  breakfast  with  me  at  Hotherstone's  Farm,  in- 
stead." 

"Much  obliged  to  you  for  your  kindness,  Mr.  Franklin. 
But  it  wasn't  exactly  breakfast  that  I  was  driving  at.  I  think 
you  mentioned  that  you  had  something  to  say  to  me?  If  it's 
no  secret,  sir,"  said  Betteredge,  suddenly  abandoning  the 
crooked  way,  and  taking  the  straight  one,  "I'm  burning  to 
know  what  brought  you  down  here,  if  you  please,  in  this  sud- 
den way." 

"What  brought  me  here  before?"  I  asked. 

"The  Moonstone,  Mr.  Franklin.  But  what  brings  you 
now,  sir?" 

"The  Moonstone  again,  Betteredge." 

329 


THE  MOONSTONE 

The  old  man  suddenly  stood  still,  and  looked  at  me  in  the 
gray  twilight  as  if  he  suspected  his  own  ears  of  deceiving 
him. 

"If  that's  a  joke,  sir,"  he  said,  "I'm  afraid  I'm  getting  a 
little  dull  in  my  old  age.    I  don't  take  it." 

"It's  no  joke,"  I  answered.  "I  have  come  here  to  take 
up  the  inquiry  which  was  dropped  when  I  left  England.  I 
have  come  here  to  do  what  nobody  has  done  yet — to  find  out 
who  took  the  Diamond." 

"Let  the  Diamond  be,  Mr.  FrankHn !  Take  my  advice, 
and  let  the  Diamond  be !  That  cursed  Indian  jewel  has  mis- 
guided every  body  who  has  come  near  it.  Don't  waste  your 
money  and  your  temper — in  the  fine  spring-time  of  your  life, 
sir — by  meddling  with  the  Moonstone.  How  can  you  hope 
to  succeed,  saving  your  presence,  when  Sergeant  Cuff  himself 
made  a  mess  of  it  ?  Sergeant  Cuff !"  repeated  Betteredge, 
shaking  his  forefinger  at  me  sternly.  "The  greatest  police- 
man in  England !" 

"My  mind  is  made  up,  my  old  friend.  Even  Sergeant 
Cuff  doesn't  daunt  me.  By-the-bye,  I  may  want  to  speak  to 
him,  sooner  or  later.  Have  you  heard  any  thing  of  him 
lately?" 

"The  Sergeant  won't  help  you,  Mr.  Franklin." 

"Why  not  ?" 

"There  has  been  an  event,  sir,  in  the  police  circles  since 
you  went  away.  The  great  Cuff  has  retired  from  business. 
He  has  got  a  little  cottage  at  Dorking  and  he's  up  to  his  eyes 
in  the  growing  of  roses.  I  have  it  in  his  own  handwriting, 
Mr.  Franklin.  He  has  grown  the  white  moss-rose,  without 
budding  it  on  the  dog-rose  first.  And  Mr.  Begbie  the  gar- 
dener is  to  go  to  Dorking  and  own  that  the  Sergeant  has 
beaten  him  at  last." 

"It  doesn't  much  matter,"  I  said.  "I  must  do  without  Ser- 
geant Cuff's  help.     And  I  must  trust  to  you,  at  starting." 

It  is  likely  enough  that  I  spoke  rather  carelessly.  At  any 
rate,  Betteredge  seemed  to  be  piqued  by  something  in  the 
reply  which  I  had  just  made  to  him.  "You  might  trust  to 
worse  than  me,  Mr.  Franklin — I  can  tell  you  that,"  he  said, 
a  little  sharply. 

The  tone  in  which  he  retorted,  and  a  certain  disturbance, 

330 


THE  MOONSTONE 

after  he  had  spoken,  which  I  detected  in  his  manner,  sug- 
gested to  me  that  he  was  possessed  of  some  information  which 
he  hesitated  to  communicate. 

"I  expect  you  to  help  me,"  I  said,  "picking  up  the  frag- 
ments of  evidence  which  Sergeant  Cuff  has  left  behind  him. 
I  know  you  can  do  that.    Can  you  do  no  more?" 

"What  more  can  you  expect  from  me,  sir?"  asked  Better- 
edge,  with  an  appearance  of  the  utmost  humility. 

"I  expect  more — from  what  you  said  just  now." 

"Mere  boasting,  Mr.  Franklin,"  returned  the  old  man,  ob- 
stinately. "Some  people  are  born  boasters,  and  they  never 
get  over  it  to  their  dying  day.    I'm  one  of  them." 

There  was  only  one  way  to  take  with  him.  I  appealed  to 
his  interest  in  Rachel  and  his  interest  in  me. 

"Betteredge,  would  you  be  glad  to  hear  that  Rachel  and  I 
were  good  friends  again  ?" 

"I  have  served  your  family,  sir,  to  mighty  little  purpose, 
if  you  doubt  it !" 

"Do  you  remember  how  Rachel  treated  me  before  I  left 
England  ?" 

"As  well  as  if  it  was  yesterday !  My  lady  herself  wrote 
you  a  letter  about  it,  and  you  were  so  good  as  to  show  the 
letter  to  me.  It  said  that  Miss  Rachel  was  mortally  offended 
with  you  for  the  part  you  had  taken  in  trying  to  recover  her 
jewel.  And  neither  my  lady,  nor  you,  nor  any  body  else  could 
guess  why." 

"Quite  true,  Betteredge !  And  I  come  back  from  my  travels 
and  find  her  mortally  offended  with  me  still.  I  knew  that 
the  Diamond  was  at  the  bottom  of  it  last  year,  and  I  know 
that  the  Diamond  is  at  the  bottom  of  it  now.  I  have  tried  to 
speak  to  her  and  she  won't  see  me.  I  have  tried  to  write  to 
her  and  she  won't  answer  me.  How,  in  Heaven's  name,  am 
I  to  clear  the  matter  up?  The  chance  of  searching  into  the 
loss  of  the  Moonstone,  is  the  one  chance  of  inquiry  that  Rachel 
herself  has  left  me  !" 

Those  words  evidently  put  the  case  before  him  as  he  had 
not  seen  it  yet.  He  asked  a  question  which  satisfied  me  that 
I  had  shaken  him. 

"There  is  no  ill-feeling  in  this,  Mr.  Franklin,  on  your  side 
—is  there  ?" 

33^ 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"There  was  some  anger,"  I  answered,  "when  I  left 
London.  But  that  is  all  worn  out  now.  I  want  to  make 
Rachel  come  to  an  understanding  with  me — and  1  want  noth- 
ing more." 

"You  don't  feel  any  fear,  sir — supposing  you  make  any  dis- 
coveries— in  regard  to  what  you  may  find  out  about  Miss 
Rachel?" 

I  understood  the  jealous  belief  in  his  young  mistress  which 
prompted  those  words. 

"I  am  as  certain  of  her  as  you  are,"  I  answered.  "The 
fullest  disclosure  of  her  secret  will  reveal  nothing  that  can 
alter  her  place  in  your  estimation  or  in  mine." 

Betteredge's  last-left  scruples  vanished  at  that. 

"If  I  am  doing  wrong  to  help  you,  Mr.  Franklin,"  he  ex- 
claimed, "all  I  can  say  is — I  am  as  innocent  of  seeing  it  as  the 
babe  unborn !  I  can  put  you  on  the  road  to  discovery,  if  you 
can  only  go  on  by  yourself.  You  remember  that  poor  girl  of 
ours — Rosanna  Spearman  ?" 

"Of  course?" 

"You  always  thought  she  had  some  sort  of  confession,  in 
regard  to  this  matter  of  the  Moonstone,  which  she  wanted  to 
make  to  you?" 

"I  certainly  couldn't  account  for  her  strange  conduct  in  any 
other  way." 

"You  may  set  that  doubt  at  rest,  Mr.  Franklin,  whenever 
you  please." 

It  was  my  turn  to  come  to  a  stand-still  now.  I  tried  vainly, 
in  the  gathering  darkness,  to  see  his  face.  In  the  surprise  of 
the  moment,  I  asked  a  little  impatiently  what  he  meant. 

"Steady,  sir !"  proceeded  Betteredge.  "I  mean  what  I  say. 
Rosanna  Spearman  left  a  sealed  letter  behind  her — a  letter 
addressed  to  youy 

"Where  is  it?" 

"In  the  possession  of  a  friend  of  hers  at  Cobb's  Hole.  You 
must  have  heard  tell,  when  you  were  here  last,  sir,  of  Limping 
Lucy — a  lame  girl,  with  a  crutch." 

"The  fisherman's  daughter?" 

"The  same,  Mr.  Franklin." 

"Why  wasn't  the  letter  forwarded  to  me?" 

"Limping  Lucy  has  a  will  of  her  own,  sir.     She  wouldn't 

332 


THE  MOONSTONE 

give  it  into  any  hands  but  yours.    And  you  had  left  England 
before  I  could  write  to  you." 

"Let's  go  back,  Betteredge,  and  get  it  at  once !" 
"Too  late,  sir,  to-night.     They're  great  savers  of  candles 
along  our  coast ;  and  they  go  to  bed  early  at  Cobb's  Hole." 
"Nonsense !    We  might  get  there  in  half  an  hour." 
"You  might,  sir.     And  when  you  did  get  there  you  would 
find  the  door  locked."     He  pointed  to  a  light  glimmering  be- 
low us,  and,  at  the  same  moment  I  heard  through  the  stillness 
of  the  evening  the  bubbling  of  a  stream.    "There's  the  Farm, 
Mr.  Franklin !     Make  yourself  comfortable  for  to-night,  and 
come  to  me  to-morrow  morning — if  you'll  be  so  kind." 
"You  will  go  with  me  to  the  fisherman's  cottage?" 
"Yes,  sir." 
"Early  ?" 

"As  early,  Mr.  Franklin,  as  you  like." 
We  descended  the  path  that  led  to  the  Farm. 


CHAPTER   HI. 

I  HAVE  only  the  most  indistinct  recollection  of  what  hap- 
pened at  Hotherstone's  Farm. 

I  remember  a  hearty  welcome ;  a  prodigious  supper,  which 
would  have  fed  a  whole  village  in  the  East ;  a  delightfully 
clean  bedroom,  with  nothing  in  it  to  regret  but  that  detestable 
product  of  the  folly  of  our  forefathers — a  feather-bed ;  a  rest- 
less night,  with  much  kindling  of  matches  and  many  lightings 
of  one  little  candle ;  and  an  immense  sensation  of  relief  when 
the  sun  rose  and  there  was  a  prospect  of  getting  up. 

It  had  been  arranged  overnight  with  Betteredge  that  I  was 
to  call  for  him,  on  our  way  to  Cobb's  Hole,  as  early  as  I  liked 
— which,  interpreted  by  my  impatience  to  get  possession  of 
the  letter,  meant  as  early  as  I  could.  Without  waiting  for 
breakfast  at  the  Farm,  I  took  a  crust  of  bread  in  mv  hand 
and  set  forth,  in  some  doubt  whether  I  should  not  surprise 
the  excellent  Betteredge  in  his  bed.  To  my  great  relief  he 
proved  to  be  quite  as  excited  about  the  coming  event  as  I 

333 


THE  MOONSTONE 

was.  I  found  him  ready  and  waiting  for  me,  with  his  stick  in 
his  hand. 

"How  are  you  this  morning,  Betteredge?" 

"Very  poorly,  sir." 

"Sorry  to  hear  it.    What  do  you  complain  of?" 

"I  complain  of  a  new  disease,  Mr.  Franklin,  of  my  own 
inventing.  I  don't  want  to  alarm  you,  but  you're  certain  to 
catch  it  before  the  morning  is  out." 

"The  devil  I  am !" 

"Do  you  feel  an  uncomfortable  heat  at  the  pit  of  your 
stomach,  sir?  and  a  nasty  thumping  at  the  top  of  your  head? 
Ah!  not  yet?  It  will  lay  hold  of  you  at  Cobb's  Hole,  Mr. 
Franklin.  I  call  it  the  detective-fever;  and  I  first  caught  it 
in  the  company  of  Sergeant  Cuff." 

"Ay !  ay !  and  the  cure  in  this  instance  is  to  open  Rosanna 
Spearman's  letter,  I  suppose  ?  Come  along,  and  let's  get  it !" 
Early  as  it  was,  we  found  the  fisherman's  wife  astir  in  her 
kitchen.  On  my  presentation  by  Betteredge  good  Mrs.  Yol- 
land  performed  a  social  ceremony,  strictly  reserved,  as  I  after- 
ward learned,  for  strangers  of  distinction.  She  put  a  bottle 
of  Dutch  gin  and  a  couple  of  clean  pipes  on  the  table,  and 
opened  the  conversation  by  saying :  "What  news  from  Lon- 
don, sir?" 

Before  I  could  find  an  answer  to  this  immensely  compre- 
hensive question  an  apparition  advanced  toward  me  out  of  a 
dark  corner  of  the  kitchen.  A  wan,  wild,  haggard  girl,  with 
remarkably  beautiful  hair,  and  with  a  fierce  keenness  in  her 
eyes,  came  limping  up  on  a  crutch  to  the  table  at  which  I  was 
sitting,  and  looked  at  me  as  if  I  were  an  object  of  mingled 
interest  and  horror,  which  it  quite  fascinated  her  to  see. 

"Mr.  Betteredge,"  she  said,  without  taking  her  eyes  off 
me,  "mention  his  name  again,  if  you  please." 

"This  gentleman's  name,"  answered  Betteredge,  with  a 
strong  emphasis  on  gentleman,  "is  Mr.  Franklin  Blake." 

The  girl  turned  her  back  on  me  and  suddenly  left  the  room. 
Good  Mrs.  Yolland,  as  I  believe,  made  some  apologies  for 
her  daughter's  odd  behavior,  and  Betteredge,  probably,  trans- 
lated them  into  polite  English.  I  speak  of  this  in  complete 
uncertainty.  My  attention  was  absorbed  in  following  the 
sound  of  the  girl's  crutch.     Thump-thump  up  the  wooden 

334 


THE  MOONSTONE 

stairs ;  thump-thump  across  the  room  above  our  heads ;  thump- 
thump  down  the  stairs  again — and  there  stood  the  apparition 
at  the  open  door,  with  a  letter  in  its  hand,  beckoning  me  out ! 

I  left  more  apologies  in  course  of  delivery  behind  me  and 
followed  this  strange  creature — limping  on  before  me  faster 
and  faster — down  the  slope  of  the  beach.  She  led  me  behind 
some  boats,  out  of  sight  and  hearing  of  the  few  people  in 
the  fishing-village  and  then  stopped  and  faced  me  for  the 
first  time. 

"Stand  there,"  she  said.     'T  want  to  look  at  you." 

There  was  no  mistaking  the  expression  on  her  face.  I  in- 
spired her  with  the  strongest  emotions  of  abhorrence  and 
disgust.  Let  me  not  be  vain  enough  to  say  that  no  woman 
had  ever  looked  at  me  in  this  manner  before.  I  will  only 
venture  on  the  more  modest  assertion  that  no  woman  had 
ever  let  me  perceive  it  yet.  There  is  a  limit  to  the  length 
of  the  inspection  which  a  man  can  endure,  under  certain  cir- 
cumstances. I  attempted  to  direct  Limping  Lucy's  attention 
to  some  less  revolting  object  than  my  face. 

"I  think  you  have  got  a  letter  to  give  me,"  I  began.  'Ts  it 
the  letter  there  in  your  hand?" 

"Say  that  again,"  was  the  only  answer  I  received. 

I  repeated  the  words,  like  a  good  child  learning  its  lesson. 

"No,"  said  the  girl,  speaking  to  herself,  but  keeping  her 
eyes  still  mercilessly  fixed  on  me.  "I  can't  find  out  what  she 
sav/  in  his  face.  I  can't  guess  what  she  heard  in  his  voice." 
She  suddenly  looked  away  from  me,  and  rested  her  head 
wearily  on  the  top  of  her  crutch.  "Oh  my  poor  dear !"  she 
said,  in  the  first  soft  tones  which  had  fallen  from  her  in  my 
hearing.  "Oh  my  lost  darling!  what  could  you  see  in  this 
man?"  She  lifted  her  head  again  fiercely,  and  looked  at  me 
once  more.     "Can  you  eat  and  drink  ?"  she  asked. 

I  did  my  best  to  preserve  my  gravity,  and  answered,  "Yes." 

"Can  vou  sleep?" 

"Yes."' 

"When  you  see  a  poor  girl  in  service,  do  you  feel  no  re- 
morse ?" 

"Certainly  not.    Why  should  I  ?" 

She  abruptly  thrust  the  letter,  as  the  phrase  is,  into  my 
face, 

335 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Take  it !"  she  exclaimed,  furiously.  "I  never  set  eyes  on 
you  before.  God  Almighty  forbid  I  should  ever  set  eyes  on 
you  again." 

With  those  parting  words  she  limped  away  from  me  at  the 
top  of  her  speed.  The  one  interpretation  that  I  could  put  on 
her  conduct  has,  no  doubt,  been  anticipated  by  every  body. 
I  could  only  suppose  that  she  was  mad. 

Having  reached  that  inevitable  conclusion,  I  turned  to  the 
more  interesting  object  of  investigation  which  was  presented 
to  me  by  Rosanna  Spearman's  letter.  The  address  was  writ- 
ten as  follows :  "For  Franklin  Blake,  Esq.  To  be  given  into 
his  own  hands,  and  not  to  be  trusted  to  any  one  else,  by  Lucy 
Yolland." 

I  broke  the  seal.  The  envelope  contained  a  letter,  and  this, 
in  its  turn,  contained  a  slip  of  paper.     I  read  the  letter  first : 

"Sir, — If  you  are  curious  to  know  the  meaning  of  my  be- 
havior to  you,  while  you  were  staying  in  the  house  of  my 
mistress,  Lady  Verinder,  do  what  you  are  told  to  do  in  the 
memorandum  inclosed  with  this — and  do  it  without  any  per- 
son being  present  to  overlook  you.  Your  humble  ser- 
vant, .  Rosanna  Spearman." 

I  turned  to  the  slip  of  paper  next.  Here  is  the  literal  copy 
of  it,  word  for  word : 

"Memorandum  : — To  go  to  the  Shivering  Sand  at  the  turn 
of  the  tide.  To  walk  out  on  the  South  Spit,  until  I  get  the 
South  Spit  Beacon,  and  the  flag-staflf  at  the  Coast-guard  sta- 
tion above  Cobb's  Hole  in  a  line  together.  To  lay  down  on 
the  rocks,  a  stick,  or  any  straight  thing  to  guide  my  hand, 
exactly  in  the  line  of  the  beacon  and  the  flag-staff.  To  take 
care,  in  doing  this,  that  one  end  of  the  stick  shall  be  at  the 
edge  of  the  rocks,  on  the  side  of  them  which  overlooks  the 
quicksand.  To  feel  along  the  stick,  among  the  sea-weed,  be- 
ginning from  the  end  of  the  stick  which  points  toward  the 
beacon,  for  the  chain.  To  run  my  hand  along  the  chain, 
when  found,  until  I  come  to  the  part  of  it  which  stretches 
over  the  edge  of  the  rocks,  down  into  the  quicksand.  And 
then,  to  pull  the  chain." 

336 


THE  MOONSTONE 

Just  as  I  had  read  the  last  words — underHned  in  the  orig- 
inal— I  heard  the  voice  of  Betteredge  behind  me.  The  in- 
ventor of  the  detective-fever  had  completely  succumbed  to 
that  irresistible  malady.  "I  can't  stand  it  any  longer,  Mr. 
Franklin.  What  does  her  letter  say?  For  mercy's  sake,  sir, 
tell  us  what  does  her  letter  say?" 

I  handed  him  the  letter  and  the  memorandum.  He  read 
the  first  without  appearing  to  be  much  interested  in  it.  But 
the  second — the  memorandum — produced  a  strong  impression 
on  him. 

"The  Sergeant  said  it!"  cried  Betteredge.  "From  first  to 
last,  sir,  the  Sergeant  said  she  had  got  a  memorandum  of  the 
hiding-place.  And  here  it  is !  Lord  save  us,  Mr.  Franklin, 
here  is  the  secret  that  puzzled  every  body,  from  the  great  Cuff 
downward,  ready  and  waiting,  as  one  may  say,  to  show  itself 
to  you!  It's  the  ebb  now,  sir,  as  any  body  may  see  for  them- 
selves. How  long  will  it  be  till  the  turn  of  the  tide?"  He 
looked  up,  and  observed  a  lad  at  work  at  some  little  distance 
from  us,  mending  a  net.  "Tammie  Bright!"  he  shouted,  at 
the  top  of  his  voice. 

"I  hear  you  !"  Tammie  shouted  back. 

"When's  the  turn  of  the  tide?" 

"In  an  hour's  time." 

We  both  looked  at  our  watches. 

"We  can  go  round  by  the  coast,  Mr,  Franklin,"  said  Bet- 
teredge, "and  get  to  the  quicksand  in  that  way,  with  plenty 
of  time  to  spare.    What  do  you  say,  sir?" 

"Come  along." 

On  our  way  to  the  Shivering  Sand  I  applied  to  Betteredge 
to  revive  my  memory  of  events,  as  affecting  Rosanna  Spear- 
man, at  the  period  of  Sergeant  Cuff's  inquiry.  With  my  old 
friend's  help  I  soon  had  the  succession  of  circumstances 
clearly  registered  again  in  my  mind.  Rosanna's  journey  to 
Frizinghall,  when  the  whole  household  believed  her  to  be  ill 
in  her  own  room — Rosanna's  mysterious  employment  of  the 
night-time,  with  her  door  locked  and  her  candle  burning  till 
the  morning — Rosanna's  suspicious  purchase  of  the  japanned 
tin  case  and  the  two  dogs'  chains  from  Mrs.  Yolland — the 
Sergeant's  positive  conviction  that  Rosanna  had  hidden  some- 
thing at  the  Shivering  Sand,  and  the  Sergeant's  absolute  igno- 

337 


THE  MOONSTONE 

ranee  as  to  what  that  something  could  be — all  these  strange 
results  of  the  abortive  inquiry  into  the  loss  of  the  Moonstone 
were  clearly  present  to  me  again  when  we  reached  the  quick- 
sand, and  walked  out  together  on  the  low  ledge  of  rocks 
called  the  South  Spit. 

With  Betteredge's  help  I  soon  stood  in  the  right  position 
to  see  the  Beacon  and  the  Coast-guard  flag-staft  in  a  line 
together.  Following  the  memorandum  as  our  guide,  we  next 
laid  my  stick  in  the  necessary  direction,  as  neatly  as  we  could, 
on  the  uneven  surface  of  the  rocks.  And  then  we  looked  at 
our  watches  once  more. 

It  wanted  nearly  twenty  minutes  yet  of  the  turn  of  the 
tide.  I  suggested  waiting  through  this  interval  on  the  beach, 
instead  of  on  the  wet  and  slippery  surface  of  the  rocks.  Hav- 
ing reached  the  dry  sand,  I  prepared  to  sit  down ;  and,  greatly 
to  my  surprise,  Betteredge  prepared  to  leave  me. 

"What  are  you  going  away  for  ?"  I  asked. 

"Look  at  the  letter  again,  sir,  and  you  will  see." 

A  glance  at  the  letter  reminded  me  that  I  was  charged, 
when  I  made  my  discovery,  to  make  it  alone. 

"It's  hard  enough  for  me  to  leave  you  at  such  a  time  as 
this,"  said  Betteredge.  "But  she  died  a  dreadful  death,  poor 
soul!  and  I  feel  a  kind  of  call  on  me,  Mr.  Franklin,  to  humor 
that  fancy  of  hers.  Besides,"  he  added,  confidentially,  "there's 
nothing  in  the  letter  against  your  letting  out  the  secret  after- 
ward. I'll  hang  about  in  the  fir-plantation,  and  wait  till  you 
pick  me  up.  Don't  be  longer  than  you  can  help,  sir.  The 
detective-fever  isn't  an  easy  disease  to  deal  with,  under  these 
circumstances." 

With  that  parting  caution  he  left  me. 

The  interval  of  expectation,  short  as  it  was  when  reckoned 
by  the  measure  of  time,  assumed  formidable  proportions  when 
reckoned  by  the  measure  of  suspense.  This  was  one  of  the 
occasions  on  which  the  invaluable  habit  of  smoking  becomes 
especially  precious  and  consolatory,  I  lit  a  cigar  and  sat 
down  on  the  slope  of  the  beach. 

The  sunlight  poured  its  unclouded  beauty  on  every  object 
that  I  could  see.  The  exquisite  freshness  of  the  air  made 
the  mere  act  of  living  and  breathing  a  luxury.  Even  the 
lonely  little  bay  welcomed  the  morning  with  a  show  of  cheer- 

338 


THE  MOONSTONE 

fulness ;  and  the  bared  wet  surface  of  the  quicksand  itself, 
gUttering  with  a  golden  brightness,  hid  the  horror  of  its  false 
brown  face  under  a  passing  smile.  It  was  the  finest  day  I 
had  seen  since  my  return  to  England. 

The  turn  of  the  tide  came  before  my  cigar  was  finished. 
I  saw  the  preliminary  heaving  of  the  Sand,  and  then  the  awful 
shiver  that  crept  over  its  surface — as  if  some  spirit  of  terror 
lived  and  moved  and  shuddered  in  the  fathomless  deeps 
beneath.  I  threw  away  my  cigar  and  went  back  again  to  the 
rocks. 

My  directions  in  the  memorandum  instructed  me  to  feel 
along  the  line  traced  by  the  stick,  beginning  with  the  end 
which  was  nearest  to  the  beacon. 

I  advanced  in  this  manner  more  than  half-way  along  the 
stick,  without  encountering  any  thing  but  the  edges  of  the 
rocks.  An  inch  or  two  farther  on,  however,  my  patience  was 
rewarded.  In  a  narrow  little  fissure,  just  within  reach  of  my 
forefinger,  I  felt  the  chain.  Attempting,  next,  to  follow  it 
by  touch  in  the  direction  of  the  quicksand,  I  found  my  prog- 
ress stopped  by  a  thick  growth  of  sea-weed — which  had  fas- 
tened itself  into  the  fissure,  no  doubt,  in  the  time  that  had 
elapsed  since  Rosanna  Spearman  had  chosen  her  hiding- 
place. 

It  was  equally  impossible  to  pull  up  the  sea-weed  or  to 
force  my  hand  through  it.  After  marking  the  spot  indicated 
by  the  end  of  the  stick  which  was  placed  nearest  to  the  quick- 
sand, I  determined  to  pursue  the  search  for  the  chain  on  a 
plan  of  my  own.  My  idea  was  to  "sound"  immediately 
under  the  rocks,  on  the  chance  of  recovering  the  lost 
trace  of  the  chain  at  the  point  at  which  it  entered  the  sand. 
I  took  up  the  stick  and  knelt  down  on  the  brink  of  the  South 
Spit. 

In  this  position  my  face  was  within  a  few  feet  of  the  sur- 
face of  the  quicksand.  The  sight  of  it  so  near  me,  still  dis- 
turbed at  intervals  by  its  hideous  shivering  fit,  shook  my 
nerves  for  the  moment.  A  horrible  fancy  that  the  dead 
woman  might  appear  on  the  scene  of  her  suicide  to  assist  my 
search — an  unutterable  dread  of  seeing  her  rise  through  the 
heaving  surface  of  the  sand  and  point  to  the  place — forced 
itself  into  my  mind,  and  turned  me  cold  in  the  warm  sun- 

339 


THE  MOONSTONE 

light.  I  own  I  closed  my  eyes  at  the  moment  when  the  point 
of  the  stick  first  entered  the  quicksand. 

The  instant  afterward,  before  the  stick  could  have  been 
submerged  more  than  a  few  inches,  I  was  free  from  the  hold 
of  my  own  superstitious  terror,  and  was  throbbing  with  ex- 
citement from  head  to  foot.  Sounding  bHndfoId,  at  my  first 
attempt — at  that  first  attempt  I  had  sounded  right !  The  stick 
struck  the  chain. 

Taking  a  firm  hold  of  the  roots  of  the  sea-weed  with  my 
left  hand,  I  laid  myself  down  over  the  brink,  and  felt  with 
my  right  hand  under  the  overhanging  edges  of  the  rock.  My 
right  hand  found  the  chain. 

I  drew  it  up  without  the  slightest  difficulty.  And  there 
was  the  japanned  tin  case  fastened  to  the  end  of  it. 

The  action  of  the  water  had  so  rusted  the  chain  that  it 
was  impossible  for  me  to  unfasten  it  from  the  hasp  which 
attached  it  to  the  case.  Putting  the  case  between  my  knees, 
and  exerting  my  utmost  strength,  I  contrived  to  draw  off  the 
cover.  Some  white  substance  filled  the  whole  interior  when 
I  looked  in.    I  put  in  my  hand  and  found  it  to  be  linen. 

In  drawing  out  the  linen  I  also  drew  out  a  letter  crumpled 
up  with  it.  After  looking  at  the  direction,  and  discovering 
that  it  bore  my  name,  I  put  the  letter  in  my  pocket  and  com- 
pletely removed  the  linen.  It  came  out  in  a  thick  roll,  molded, 
of  course,  to  the  shape  of  the  case  in  which  it  had  been  so 
long  confined,  and  perfectly  preserved  from  any  injury  by 
the  sea. 

I  carried  the  linen  to  the  dry  sand  of  the  beach,  and  there 
unrolled  and  smoothed  it  out.  There  was  no  mistaking  it 
as  an  article  of  dress.     It  was  a  night-gown. 

The  uppermost  side,  when  I  spread  it  out,  presented  to 
view  innumerable  folds  and  creases,  and  nothing  more.  I 
tried  the  undermost  side  next,  and  instantly  discovered  the 
smear  of  the  paint  from  the  door  of  Rachel's  boudoir ! 

My  eyes  remained  riveted  on  the  stain,  and  my  mind  took 
me  back  at  a  leap  from  present  to  past.  The  very  words  of 
Sergeant  Cufif  recurred  to  me,  as  if  the  man  himself  was  at 
my  side  again,  pointing  to  the  unanswerable  inference  which 
he  drew  from  the  smear  on  the  door : 

"Find  out  whether  there  is  any  article  of  dress  in  this 

340 


THE  MOONSTONE 

house  with  the  stain  of  the  paint  on  it.  Find  out  who  that 
dress  belongs  to.  Find  out  how  the  person  can  account  for 
having  been  in  the  room,  and  smeared  the  paint,  between 
midnight  and  three  in  the  morning.  If  the  person  can't  sat- 
isfy you,  you  haven't  far  to  look  for  the  hand  that  took  the 
Diamond." 

One  after  another  those  words  traveled  over  my  memory, 
repeating  themselves  again  and  again  with  a  wearisome,  me- 
chanical reiteration.  I  was  roused  from  what  felt  like  a  trance 
of  many  hours — from  what  was  really,  no  doubt,  the  pause 
of  a  few  moments  only — by  a  voice  calling  to  me.  I  looked 
up  and  saw  that  Betteredge's  patience  had  failed  him  at  last. 
He  was  just  visible  between  the  sand-hills,  returning  to  the 
beach. 

The  old  man's  appearance  recalled  me,  the  moment  I  per- 
ceived it,  to  my  sense  of  present  things  and  reminded  me 
that  the  inquiry  which  I  had  pursued  thus  far  still  remained 
incomplete.  I  had  discovered  the  smear  on  the  night-gown. 
To  whom  did  the  night-gown  belong? 

My  first  impulse  was  to  consult  the  letter  in  my  pocket — 
the  letter  which  I  had  found  in  the  case. 

As  I  raised  my  hand  to  take  it  out  I  remembered  that 
there  was  a  shorter  way  to  discovery  than  this.  The  night- 
gown itself  would  reveal  the  truth ;  for,  in  all  probability, 
the  night-gown  was  marked  with  its  owner's  name. 

I  took  it  up  from  the  sand  and  looked  for  the  mark.  I 
found  the  mark,  and  read — 

My  own  name! 

There  were  the  familiar  letters  which  told  me  that  the 
night-gown  was  mine.  I  looked  up  from  them.  There  was 
the  sun ;  there  were  the  glittering  waters  of  the  bay ;  there 
was  old  Betteredge,  advancing  nearer  and  nearer  to  me.  I 
looked  back  again  at  the  letters.  My  own  name.  Plainly 
confronting  me — my  own  name. 

"If  time,  pains,  and  money  can  do  it,  I  will  lay  my  hand 
on  the  thief  who  took  the  Moonstone" — I  had  left  London 
with  those  words  on  my  lips.  I  had  penetrated  the  secret 
which  the  quicksand  had  kept  from  every  other  living  crea- 
ture. And,  on  the  unanswerable  evidence  of  the  paint-stain, 
I  had  discovered  myself  as  the  thief. 

341 


THE  MOONSTONE 


CHAPTER  IV. 

I  HAVE  not  a  word  to  say  about  my  own  sensations. 
My  impression  is,  that  the  shock  inflicted  on  me  com- 
pletely suspended  my  thinking  and  feeling  power.  I  certainly 
could  not  have  known  what  I  was  about  when  Betteredge 
joined  me — for  I  have  it  on  his  authority  that  I  laughed,  when 
he  asked  what  was  the  matter,  and,  putting  the  night-gown 
into  his  hands,  told  him  to  read  the  riddle  for  himself. 

Of  what  \yas  said  between  us  on  the  beach  I  have  not  the 
faintest  recollection.  The  first  place  in  which  I  can  now  see 
myself  again  plainly  is  the  plantation  of  firs.  Betteredge  and 
I  are  walking  back  together  to  the  house ;  and  Betteredge  is 
telling  me  that  I  shall  be  able  to  face  it  and  he  will  be  able 
to  face  it,  when  we  have  had  a  glass  of  grog. 

The  scene  shifts  from  the  plantation  to  Betteredge's  little 
sitting-room.  My  resolution  not  to  enter  Rachel's  house  is 
forgotten.  I  feel  gratefully  the  coolness  and  shadiness  and 
quiet  of  the  room.  I  drink  the  grog,  a  perfectly  new  luxury 
to  me,  at  that  time  of  day,  which  my  good  old  friend  mixes 
with  icy-cool  water  from  the  well.  Under  any  other  circum- 
stances the  drink  would  simply  stupefy  me.  As  things  are, 
it  strings  up  my  nerves.  I  begin  to  "face  it,"  as  Betteredge 
has  predicted.  And  Betteredge,  on  his  side,  begins  to  "face 
it"  too. 

The  picture  which  I  am  now  presenting  of  myself  will,  I 
suspect,  be  thought  a  very  strange  one,  to  say  the  least  of  it. 
Placed  in  a  situation  which  may,  I  think,  be  described  as 
entirely  without  parallel,  what  is  the  first  proceeding  to  which 
I  resort?  Do  I  seclude  myself  from  all  human  society?  Do 
I  set  my  mind  to  analyze  the  abominable  impossibility  which, 
nevertheless,  confronts  me  as  an  undeniable  fact?  Do  I  hurry 
back  to  London  by  the  first  train  to  consult  the  highest  au- 
thorities, and  to  set  a  searching  inquiry  on  foot  immediately? 
No.  I  accept  the  shelter  of  a  house  which  I  had  resolved 
never  to  degrade  myself  by  entering  again ;  and  I  sit,  tippling 
spirits  and  water  in  the  company  of  an  old  servant,  at  ten 
o'clock  in  the  morning.  Is  this  the  conduct  that  might  have 
been  expected  from  a  man  placed  in  my  horrible  position? 

342 


THE  MOONSTONE 

I  can  only  answer,  that  the  sight  of  old  Betteredge's  familiar 
face  was  an  inexpressible  comfort  to  me  and  that  the  drinking 
of  old  Betteredge's  grog  helped  me,  as  I  believe  nothing  else 
would  have  helped  me,  in  the  state  of  complete  bodily  and 
mental  prostration  into  which  I  had  fallen.  I  can  only  offer 
this  excuse  for  myself;  and  I  can  only  admire  that  invariable 
preservation  of  dignity  and  that  strictly  logical  consistency 
of  conduct  which  distinguish  every  man  and  woman  who  may 
read  these  lines,  in  every  emergency  of  their  lives  from  the 
cradle  to  the  grave. 

"Now,  Mr.  Franklin,  there's  one  thing  certain,  at  any  rate," 
said  Betteredge,  throwing  the  night-gown  down  on  the 
table  between  us,  and  pointing  to  it  as  if  it  was  a  living  crea- 
ture that  could  hear  him.    "He's  a  liar,  to  begin  with." 

This  comforting  view  of  the  matter  was  not  the  view  that 
presented  itself  to  my  mind. 

"I  am  as  innocent  of  all  knowledge  of  having  taken  the 
Diamond  as  you  are,"  I  said.  "But  there  is  the  witness 
against  me !  The  paint  on  the  night-gown  and  the  name  on 
the  night-gown,  are  facts." 

Betteredge  lifted  my  glass  and  put  it  persuasively  into  my 
hand. 

"Facts?"  he  repeated.  "Take  a  drop  more  grog,  Mr. 
Franklin,  and  you'll  get  over  the  weakness  of  believing  in 
facts !  Foul  play,  sir !"  he  continued,  dropping  his  voice  con- 
fidentially. "That  is  how  I  read  the  riddle.  Foul  play,  some- 
where— and  you  and  I  must  find  it  out.  Was  there  nothing 
else  in  the  tin  case  when  you  put  your  hand  into  it?" 

The  question  instantly  reminded  me  of  the  letter  in  my 
pocket.  I  took  it  out  and  opened  it.  It  was  a  letter  of  many 
pages,  closely  written.  I  looked  impatiently  for  the  signature 
at  the  end.     "Rosanna  Spearman." 

As  I  read  the  name  a  sudden  remembrance  illuminated 
my  mind,  and  a  sudden  suspicion  rose  out  of  the  new  light. 

"Stop !"  I  exclaimed.  "Rosanna  Spearman  came  to  my 
aunt  out  of  a  Reformatory?  Rosanna  Spearman  had  once 
been  a  thief?" 

"There's  no  denying  that,  Mr.  Franklin.  What  of  it  now, 
if  you  please?" 

"What  of  it  now?     How  do  wc  know  she  may  not  have 

343 


THE  MOONSTONE 

stolen  the  Diamond  after  all?  How  do  we  know  she  may 
not  have  smeared  my  night-gown  purposely  with  the 
paint —  ?" 

Betteredge  laid  his  hand  on  my  arm,  and  stopped  me  before 
I  could  say  any  more, 

"You  will  be  cleared  of  this,  Mr.  Franklin,  beyond  all 
doubt.  But  I  hope  you  won't  be  cleared  in  that  way.  See 
what  the  letter  says,  sir.  In  justice  to  the  girl's  memory,  see 
what  the  letter  says." 

I  felt  the  earnestness  with  which  he  spoke — felt  it  almost 
as  a  rebuke  to  me.  "You  shall  form  your  own  judgment  on 
her  letter,"  I  said ;  "I  will  read  it  out." 

I  began — and  read  these  lines : 

"Sir, — I  have  something  to  own  to  you.  A  confession 
which  means  much  misery  may  sometimes  be  made  in  very 
few  words.  This  confession  can  be  made  in  three  words. 
I  love  you." 

The  letter  dropped  from  my  hand.  I  looked  at  Betteredge. 
"In  the  name  of  Heaven,"  I  said,  "what  does  it  mean?" 

He  seemed  to  shrink  from  answering  the  question. 

"You  and  Limping  Lucy  were  alone  together  this  morning, 
sir,"  he  said.     "Did  she  say  nothing  about  Rosanna  Spear- 


man 


"She  never  even  mentioned  Rosanna  Spearman's  name." 
"Please  to  go  back  to  the  letter,  Mr.  Franklin.     I  tell  you 

plainly,  I  can't  find  it  in  my  heart  to  distress  you,  after  what 

you  have  had  to  bear  already.     Let  her  speak  for  herself,  sir. 

And  get  on  with  your  grog.    For  your  own  sake,  get  on  with 

your  grog." 

I  resumed  the  reading  of  the  letter. 

"It  would  be  very  disgraceful  to  me  to  tell  you  this,  if  I 
was  a  living  woman  when  you  read  it.  I  shall  be  dead  and 
gone,  sir,  when  you  find  my  letter.  It  is  that  which  makes 
me  bold.  Not  even  my  grave  will  be  left  to  tell  of  me.  I 
may  own  the  truth — with  the  quicksand  waiting  to  hide  me 
when  the  words  are  written. 

"Besides,  you  will  find  your  night-gown  in  my  hiding- 

344  ^ 


THE  MOONSTONE 

place,  with  the  smear  of  the  paint  on  it;  and  you  will  want 
to  know  how  it  came  to  be  hidden  by  me?  and  why  I  said 
nothing  to  you  about  it  in  my  lifetime?  I  have  only  one 
reason  to  give.  I  did  these  strange  things  because  I  loved 
you. 

"I  won't  trouble  you  with  much  about  myself,  or  my  life, 
before  you  came  to  my  lady's  house.  Lady  Verinder  took  me 
out  of  a  Reformatory.  I  had  gone  to  the  Reformatory  from 
the  prison.  I  was  put  in  the  prison,  because  I  was  a  thief.  I 
was  a  thief,  because  my  mother  went  on  the  streets  when 
I  was  quite  a  little  girl.  My  mother  went  on  the  streets,  be- 
cause the  gentleman  who  was  my  father  deserted  her.  There 
is  no  need  to  tell  such  a  common  story  as  this,  at  any  length. 
It  is  told  quite  often  enough  in  the  newspapers. 

"Lady  Verinder  was  very  kind  to  me,  and  Mr.  Betteredge 
was  very  kind  to  me.  Those  two  and  the  matron  at  the  Re- 
formatory, are  the  only  good  people  I  have  ever  met  with  in 
all  my  life.  I  might  have  got  on  in  my  place — not  happily — 
but  I  might  have  got  on,  if  you  had  not  come  visiting.  I 
don't  blame  you,  sir.    It's  my  fault — all  my  fault. 

"Do  you  remember  when  you  came  out  on  us  from  among 
the  sand-hills,  that  morning,  looking  for  Mr.  Betteredge? 
You  were  like  a  prince  in  a  fairy-story.  You  were  like  a 
lover  in  a  dream.  You  were  the  most  adorable  human  crea- 
ture I  had  ever  seen.  Something  that  felt  like  the  happy 
life  I  had  never  led  yet  leaped  up  in  me  the  instant  I  set 
eyes  on  you.  Don't  laugh  at  this,  if  you  can  help  it.  Oh,  if 
I  could  only  make  you  feel  how  serious  it  is  to  me! 

"1  went  back  to  the  house,  and  wrote  your  name  and  mine 
in  my  work-box,  and  drew  a  true-lovers'  knot  under  them. 
Then,  some  devil — no,  I  ought  to  say  some  good  angel — whis- 
pered to  me,  'Go  and  look  in  the  glass.'  The  glass  told  me 
— never  mind  what.  I  was  too  foolish  to  take  the  warning. 
I  went  on  getting  fonder  and  fonder  of  you,  just  as  if  I  was 
a  lady  in  your  own  rank  of  life  and  the  most  beautiful  crea- 
ture your  eyes  ever  rested  on.  T  tried — oh  dear,  how  I  tried — 
to  get  you  to  look  at  me.  If  you  had  known  how  I  used  to 
cry  at  night  with  the  misery  and  the  mortification  of  your 
never  taking  any  notice  of  me,  you  would  have  pitied  me, 
perhaps,  and  have  given  me  a  look  now  and  then  to  live  on. 

345 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"It  would  have  been  no  very  kind  look,  perhaps,  if  you 
had  known  how  I  hated  Miss  Rachel.  I  believe  I  found  out 
you  were  in  love  with  her  before  you  knew  it  yourself.  She 
used  to  give  you  roses  to  wear  in  your  button-hole.  Ah,  Mr. 
Franklin,  you  wore  my  roses  oftener  than  either  you  or  she 
thought !  The  only  comfort  I  had  at  that  time  was  putting 
my  rose  secretly  in  your  glass  of  water  in  place  of  hers — 
and  then  throwing  her  rose  away. 

"If  she  had  been  really  as  pretty  as  you  thouo^ht  her,  I 
might  have  borne  it  better.  No ;  I  believe  I  should  have  been 
more  spiteful  against  her  still.  Suppose  you  put  Miss  Rachel 
into  a  servant's  dress,  and  took  her  ornaments  off — ?  I  don't 
know  what  is  the  use  of  my  writing  in  this  way.  It  can't  be 
denied  that  she  had  a  bad  figure ;  she  was  too  thin.  But  who 
can  tell  what  the  men  like?  And  young  ladies  may  behave 
in  a  manner  which  would  cost  a  servant  her  place.  It's  no 
business  of  mine.  I  can't  expect  you  to  read  my  letter  if  I 
write  it  in  this  way.  But  it  does  stir  one  up  to  hear  Miss 
Rachel  called  pretty,  when  one  knows  all  the  time  that  it's 
her  dress  does  it  and  her  confidence  in  herself. 

"Try  not  to  lose  patience  with  me,  sir.  I  will  get  on  as  fast 
as  I  can  to  the  time  which  is  sure  to  interest  you — the  time 
when  the  Diamond  was  lost. 

"But  there  is  one  thing  which  I  have  got  it  on  my  mind 
to  tell  you  first. 

"My  life  was  not  a  very  hard  life  to  bear,  while  I  was  a 
thief.  It  was  only  when  they  had  taught  me  at  the  Reforma- 
tory to  feel  my  own  degradation,  and  to  try  for  better  things, 
that  the  days  grew  long  and  weary.  Thoughts  of  the  future 
forced  themselves  on  me  now.  I  felt  the  dreadful  reproach 
that  honest  people — even  the  kindest  of  honest  people — were 
to  me  in  themselves.  A  heart-breaking  sensation  of  loneliness 
kept  with  me,  go  where  I  might,  and  do  what  I  might,  and 
see  what  persons  I  might.  It  was  my  duty,  I  know,  to  try 
and  get  on  with  my  fellow-servants  in  my  new  place.  Some- 
how, I  couldn't  make  friends  with  them.  They  looked,  or 
I  thought  they  looked,  as  if  they  suspected  what  I  had  been. 
I  don't  regret,  far  from  it,  having  been  roused  to  make  the 
effort  to  be  a  reformed  woman ;  but,  indeed,  indeed  it  was  a 
weary  life.    You  had  come  across  it  like  a  beam  of  sunshine 

346 


THE  MOONSTONE 

at  first — and  then  you  too  failed  me.  I  was  mad  enough  to 
love  you ;  and  I  couldn't  even  attract  your  notice.  There  was 
great  misery — there  really  was  great  misery  in  that. 

"Now  I  am  coming  to  what  I  wanted  to  tell  you.  In 
those  days  of  bitterness  I  went  two  or  three  times,  when  it 
was  my  turn  to  go  out,  to  my  favorite  place — the  beach  above 
the  Shivering  Sand.  And  I  said  to  myself,  'I  think  it  will 
end  here.  When  I  can  bear  it  no  longer,  I  think  it  will  end 
here.'  You  will  understand,  sir,  that  the  place  had  laid  a 
kind  of  spell  on  me  before  you  came.  I  had  always  had  a 
notion  that  something  would  happen  to  me  at  the  quicksand. 
But  I  had  never  looked  at  it,  with  the  thought  of  its  being 
the  means  of  my  making  away  with  myself,  till  the  time  came 
of  which  I  am  now  writing.  Then  I  did  think  that  here  was 
a  place  which  would  end  all  my  troubles  for  me  in  a  moment 
or  two — and  hide  me  forever  afterward. 

"This  is  all  I  have  to  say  about  myself,  reckoning  from 
the  morning  when  I  first  saw  you,  to  the  morning  when 
the  alarm  was  raised  in  the  house  that  the  Diamond  was 
lost. 

"I  was  so  aggravated  by  the  foolish  talk  among  the  women 
servants,  all  wondering  who  was  to  be  suspected  first ;  and 
I  was  so  angry  with  you,  knowing  no  better  at  that  time,  for 
the  pains  you  took  in  hunting  for  the  jewel,  and  sending  for 
the  police,  that  I  kept  as  much  as  possible  away  by  myself, 
until  later  in  the  day,  when  the  officer  from  Frizinghall  came 
to  the  house. 

"Mr.  Seegrave  began,  as  you  may  remember,  by  setting  a 
guard  on  the  women's  bedrooms ;  and  the  women  all  followed 
him  up  stairs  in  a  rage,  to  know  what  he  meant  by  the  insult 
he  had  put  on  them.  I  went  with  iihe  rest,  because  if  I  had 
done  any  thing  different  from  the  rest,  Mr.  Seegrave  was 
the  sort  of  man  who  would  have  suspected  me  directly.  We 
found  him  in  Miss  Rachel's  room.  He  told  us  he  wouldn't 
have  a  lot  of  women  there ;  and  he  pointed  to  the  smear  on 
the  painted  door,  and  said  some  of  our  petticoats  had  done 
the  mischief,  and  sent  us  all  down  stairs  again. 

"After  leaving  Miss  Rachel's  room,  I  stopped  a  moment 
on  one  of  the  landings,  by  myself,  to  see  if  I  had  got  the 
paint-stain  by  any  chance  on  my  gown.    Penelope  Betteredge, 

347 


THE  MOONSTONE 

the  only  one  of  the  women  with  whom  I  was  on  friendly 
terms,  passed,  and  noticed  what  I  was  about. 

"  'You  needn't  trouble  yourself,  Rosanna,'  she  said.  'The 
paint  on  Miss  Rachel's  door  has  been  dry  for  hours.  If  Mr. 
Seegrave  hadn't  set  a  watch  on  our  bedrooms,  I  might  have 
told  him  as  much.  I  don't  know  what  you  think — /  was 
never  so  insulted  before  in  my  life !' 

"Penelope  was  a  hot-tempered  girl.  I  quieted  her,  and 
brought  her  back  to  what  she  had  said  about  the  paint  on 
the  door  having  been  dry  for  hours. 

"  'How  do  you  know  that  ?'  I  asked. 

"  'I  was  with  Miss  Rachel  and  Mr.  Franklin  all  yesterday 
morning,'  Penelope  said,  'mixing  the  colors,  while  they  fin- 
ished the  door.  I  heard  Miss  Rachel  ask  whether  the  door 
would  be  dry  that  evening,  in  time  for  the  birthday  com- 
pany to  see  it.  And  Mr.  Franklin  shook  his  head  and  said 
it  wouldn't  be  dry  in  less  than  twelve  hours.  It  was  long  past 
luncheon-time — it  was  three  o'clock  before  they  had  done. 
What  does  your  arithmetic  say,  Rosanna?  Mine  says  the 
door  was  dry  by  three  this  morning.' 

"  'Did  some  of  the  ladies  go  up  stairs  yesterday  evening  to 
see  it?'  I  asked.  'I  thought  I  heard  Miss  Rachel  warning 
them  to  keep  clear  of  the  door.' 

"  'None  of  the  ladies  made  the  smear,'  Penelope  answered. 
'I  left  Miss  Rachel  in  bed  at  twelve  last  night.  And  I  noticed 
the  door,  and  there  was  nothing  wrong  with  it  then.' 

"  'Oughtn't  you  to  mention  this  to  Mr.  Seegrave,  Penelope?' 

"  'I  wouldn't  say  a  word  to  help  Mr.  Seegrave  for  any 
thing  that  could  be  offered  to  me !' 

"She  went  to  her  work,  and  I  went  to  mine. 

"My  work,  sir,  was  to  make  your  bed,  and  to  put  your 
room  tidy.  It  was  the  happiest  hour  I  had  in  the  whole  day. 
I  used  to  kiss  the  pillow  on  which  your  head  had  rested  all 
night.  No  matter  who  has  done  it  since,  you  have  never  had 
your  clothes  folded  as  nicely  as  I  folded  them  for  you.  Of 
all  the  little  knickknacks  in  your  dressing-case,  there  wasn't 
one  that  had  so  much  as  a  speck  on  it.  You  never  noticed  it, 
any  more  than  you  noticed  me.  I  beg  your  pardon ;  I  am 
forgetting  myself.     I  will  make  haste  and  go  on  again. 

"Well,  I  went  in  that  morning  to  do  my  work  in  your 

348 


THE  MOONSTONE 

room.  There  was  your  night-gown  tossed  across  the  bed, 
just  as  you  had  thrown  it  off.  I  took  it  up  to  fold  it — and  I 
saw  the  stain  of  the  paint  from  Miss  Rachel's  door ! 

'T  was  so  startled  by  the  discovery  that  I  ran  out,  with  the 
night-gown  in  my  hand,  and  made  for  the  back  stairs  and 
locked  myself  into  my  own  room,  to  look  at  it  in  a  place  where 
nobody  could  intrude  and  interrupt  me. 

"As  soon  as  I  got  my  breath  again  I  called  to  mind  my 
talk  with  Penelope,  and  I  said  to  myself,  'Here's  the  proof 
that  he  was  in  Miss  Rachel's  sitting-room  between  twelve  last 
night  and  three  this  morning !' 

"I  shall  not  tell  you  in  plain  words  what  was  the  first  sus- 
picion that  crossed  my  mind  when  I  had  made  that  discovery. 
You  would  only  be  angry — and,  if  you  were  angry,  you  might 
tear  my  letter  up  and  read  no  more  of  it. 

"Let  it  he  enough,  if  you  please,  to  say  only  this.  After 
thinking  it  over  to  the  best  of  my  ability,  I  made  it  out  that 
the  thing  wasn't  likely,  for  a  reason  that  I  will  tell  you.  If 
you  had  been  in  Miss  Rachel's  sitting-room  at  that  time  of 
night,  with  Miss  Rachel's  knowledge,  and  if  you  had  been 
foolish  enough  to  forget  to  take  care  of  the  wet  door,  she 
would  have  reminded  you — she  would  never  have  let  you 
carry  away  such  a  witness  against  her  as  the  witness  I  was 
looking  at  now !  At  the  same  time,  I  own  I  was  not  com- 
pletely certain  in  my  own  mind  that  I  had  proved  my  own 
suspicion  to  be  wrong.  You  will  not  have  forgotten  that  I 
have  owned  to  hating  Aliss  Rachel.  Try  to  think,  if  you 
can,  that  there  was  a  little  of  that  hatred  in  all  this.  It  ended 
in  my  determining  to  keep  the  night-gown,  and  to  wait,  and 
watch,  and  see  what  use  I  might  make  of  it.  At  that  time, 
please  to  remember,  not  the  ghost  of  an  idea  entered  my  head 
that  you  had  stolen  the  Diamond." 

There,  I  broke  off  in  the  reading  of  the  letter  for  the  second 
time. 

I  had  read  those  portions  of  the  miserable  woman's  con- 
fession which  related  to  myself  with  unaffected  surprise,  and, 
I  can  honestly  add,  with  sincere  distress.  I  had  regretted, 
truly  regretted,  the  aspersion  which  I  had  thoughtlessly  cast 
on  her  memory  before  I  had  seen  a  line  of  her  letter.     But 

349 


THE  MOONSTONE 

when  I  had  advanced  as  far  as  the  passage  which  is  quoted 
above,  I  own  I  felt  my  mind  growing  bitterer  and  bitterer 
against  Rosanna  Spearman  as  I  went  on.  "Read  the  rest 
for  yourself,"  I  said,  handing  the  letter  to  Betteredge  across 
the  table.  "If  there  is  any  thing  in  it  that  I  must  look  at, 
you  can  tell  me  as  you  go  on." 

'T  understand  you,  Mr.  Franklin,"  he  answered.  "It's 
natural,  sir,  in  you.  And  God  help  us  all !"  he  added,  in  a 
lower  tone,  "it's  no  less  natural  in  her." 

I  proceed  to  copy  the  continuation  of  the  letter  from  the 
original,  in  my  own  possession. 

"Having  determined  to  keep  the  night-gown,  and  to  see 
what  use  my  love  or  my  revenge,  I  hardly  know  which,  could 
turn  it  to  in  the  future,  the  next  thing  to  discover  was  how 
to  keep  it  without  the  risk  of  being  found  out. 

"There  was  only  one  way — to  make  another  night-gown 
exactly  like  it,  before  Saturday  came  and  brought  the  laundry- 
woman  and  her  inventory  to  the  house. 

"I  was  afraid  to  put  it  ofif  till  the  next  day,  the  Friday ; 
being  in  doubt  lest  some  accident  might  happen  in  the  in- 
terval. I  determined  to  make  the  new  night-gown  on  that 
same  day,  the  Thursday,  while  I  could  count,  if  I  played  my 
cards  properly,  on  having  my  time  to  myself.  The  first 
thing  to  do,  after  locking  up  your  night-gown  in  my  drawer, 
was  to  go  back  to  your  bedroom — not  so  much  to  put  it  to 
rights,  Penelope  would  have  done  that  for  me,  if  I  had  asked 
her,  as  to  find  out  whether  you  had  smeared  ofif  any  of  the 
paint-stain  from  your  night-gowm  on  the  bed,  or  on  any  piece 
of  furniture  in  the  room. 

"I  examined  every  thing  narrowly  and  at  last  I  found  a 
few  faint  streaks  of  the  paint  on  the  inside  of  your  dressing- 
gown — not  the  linen  dressing-gown  you  usually  wore  in  that 
summer  season,  but  a  flannel  dressing-gown  which  you  had 
with  you  also.  I  suppose  you  felt  chilly  after  walking  to  and 
fro  in  nothing  but  your  night-dress  and  put  on  the  warmest 
thing  you  could  find.  At  any  rate,  there  were  the  stains, 
just  visible,  on  the  inside  of  the  dressing-gown.  I  easily  got 
rid  of  these  by  scraping  away  the  stuff  of  the  flannel.  This 
done,  the  only  proof  left  against  you  was  the  proof  locked  up 
in  my  drawer. 

350 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"I  had  just  finished  your  room  when  I  was  sent  for  to  be 
questioned  by  Mr.  Seegrave,  along  with  the  rest  of  the  ser- 
vants. Next  came  the  examination  of  all  our  boxes.  And 
then  followed  the  most  extraordinary  event  of  the  day — to  me 
— since  I  had  found  the  paint  on  your  night-gown.  It  came 
out  of  the  second  questioning  of  Penelope  Betteredge  by  Su- 
perintendent Seegrave. 

"Penelope  returned  to  us  quite  beside  herself  with  rage 
at  the  manner  in  which  Mr.  Seegrave  had  treated  her.  He 
had  hinted,  beyond  the  possibility  of  mistaking  him,  that  he 
suspected  her  of  being  the  thief.  We  were  all  equally  aston- 
ished at  hearing  this,  and  we  all  asked,  Why? 

"  'Because  the  Diamond  was  in  Miss  Rachel's  sitting-room,' 
Penelope  answered.  'And  because  I  was  the  last  person  in 
the  sitting-room  at  night !' 

"Almost  before  the  words  had  left  her  lips  I  remembered 
that  another  person  had  been  in  the  sitting-room  later  than 
Penelope.  That  person  was  yourself.  My  head  whirled 
round  and  my  thoughts  were  in  dreadful  confusion.  In  the 
midst  of  it  all,  something  in  my  mind  whispered  to  me  that 
the  smear  on  your  night-gown  might  have  a  meaning  entirely 
different  to  the  meaning  which  I  had  given  to  it  up  to  that 
time.  'If  the  last  person  who  was  in  the  room  is  the  person 
to  be  suspected,'  I  thought  to  myself,  'the  thief  is  not  Penel- 
ope, but  Mr.  Franklin  Blake !' 

"In  the  case  of  any  other  gentleman  I  believe  I  should 
have  been  ashamed  of  suspecting  him  of  theft  almost  as  soon 
as  the  suspicion  had  passed  through  my  mind. 

"But  the  bare  thought  that  you  had  let  yourself  down  to 
my  level,  and  that  I,  in  possessing  myself  of  your  night-gown, 
had  also  possessed  myself  of  the  means  of  shielding  you  from 
being  discovered,  and  disgraced  for  life — I  say,  sir,  the  bare 
thought  of  this  seemed  to  open  such  a  chance  before  me  of 
winning  your  good-will,  that  I  passed  blindfold,  as  one  may 
say,  from  suspecting  to  believing.  I  made  up  my  mind,  on 
the  spot,  that  you  had  shown  yourself  the  busiest  of  any  body 
in  fetching  the  police,  as  a  blind  to  deceive  us  all ;  and  that 
the  hand  which  had  taken  Miss  Rachel's  jewel  could  by  no 
possibility  be  any  other  hand  than  yours. 

"The  excitement  of  this  new  discovery  of  mine  must,  T 
think,  have  turned  my  head  for  a  while.     I  felt  such  a  de- 

351 


THE  MOONSTONE 

vouring  eagerness  to  see  you — to  try  you  with  a  word  or  two 
about  the  Diamond  and  to  make  you  look  at  me  and  speak 
to  me,  in  that  way — that  I  put  my  hair  tidy,  and  made  myself 
as  nice  as  I  could,  and  went  to  you  boldly  in  the  library, 
where  I  knew  you  were  writing. 

"You  had  left  one  of  your  rings  up  stairs,  which  made  as 
good  an  excuse  for  my  intrusion  as  I  could  have  desired.  But 
oh,  sir !  if  you  have  ever  loved,  you  will  understand  how  it 
was  that  all  my  courage  cooled  when  I  walked  into  the  room 
and  found  myself  in  your  presence.  And  then,  you  looked  up 
at  me  so  coldly  and  you  thanked  me  for  finding  your  ring 
in  such  an  indifferent  manner,  that  my  knees  trembled  under 
me  and  I  felt  as  if  I  should  drop  on  the  floor  at  your  feet. 
When  you  had  thanked  me  you  looked  back,  if  you  remem- 
ber, at  your  writing.  I  was  so  mortified  at  being  treated  in 
this  way  that  I  plucked  up  spirit  enough  to  speak.  I  said, 
'This  is  a  strange  thing  about  the  Diamond,  sir.'  And  you 
looked  up  again,  and  said,  'Yes,  it  is !'  You  spoke  civilly,  I 
can't  deny  that ;  but  still  you  kept  a  distance — a  cruel  distance 
between  us.  Believing,  as  I  did,  that  you  had  got  the  lost 
Diamond  hidden  about  you  while  you  were  speaking,  your 
coolness  so  provoked  me  that  I  got  bold  enough,  in  the  heat 
of  the  moment,  to  give  you  a  hint.  I  said,  'They  will  never 
find  the  Diamond,  sir,  will  they  ?  No !  nor  the  person  who 
took  it — I'll  answer  for  that.'  I  nodded,  and  smiled  at  you, 
as  much  as  to  say,  'I  know !'  This  time  you  looked  up  at 
me  with  something  like  interest  in  your  eyes ;  and  I  felt  that 
a  few  more  words  on  your  side  and  mine  might  bring  out 
the  truth.  Just  at  that  moment  Mr.  Betteredge  spoiled  it  all 
by  coming  to  the  door.  I  knew  his  footstep  and  I  also  knew 
that  it  was  against  his  rules  for  me  to  be  in  the  library  at  that 
time  of  day — let  alone  being  there  along  with  you.  I  had  only 
just  time  to  get  out  of  my  own  accord  before  he  could  come 
in  and  tell  me  to  go.  I  was  angry  and  disappointed,  but  I 
was  not  entirely  without  hope,  for  all  that.  The  ice,  you  see, 
was  broken  between  us — and  I  thought  I  would  take  care,  on 
the  next  occasion,  that  Mr.  Betteredge  was  out  of  the  way. 

"When  I  got  back  to  the  servants'  hall  the  bell  was  going 
for  our  dinner.  Afternoon  already !  and  the  materials  for 
making  the  new  night-gown  were  still  to  be  got !    There  was 

352 


THE  MOONSTONE 

but  one  chance  of  getting  them.  I  shammed  ill  at  dinner; 
and  so  secured  the  whole  of  the  interval  from  then  till  tea- 
time  to  my  own  use. 

"What  I  was  about  while  the  household  believed  me  to  be 
lying  down  in  my  own  room  and  how  I  spent  the  night,  after 
shamming  ill  again  at  tea-time  and  having  been  sent  up  to 
bed,  there  is  no  need  to  tell  you.  Sergeant  Cuff  discovered 
that  much,  if  he  discovered  nothing  more.  And  I  can  guess 
how.  I  was  detected,  though  I  kept  my  veil  down,  in  the 
draper's  shop  at  Frizinghall.  There  was  a  glass  in  front  of 
me  at  the  counter  where  I  was  buying  the  long-cloth ;  and — 
in  that  glass — I  saw  one  of  the  shopmen  point  to  my  shoulder 
and  whisper  to  another.  At  night  again,  when  I  was  secretly 
at  work,  locked  into  my  room,  I  heard  the  breathing  of  the 
women  servants  who  suspected  me  outside  my  door. 

"It  didn't  matter  then;  it  doesn't  matter  now.  On  the 
Friday  morning,  hours  before  Sergeant  Cuff  entered  the 
house,  there  was  the  new  night-gown — to  make  up  your  num- 
ber in  place  of  the  night-gown  that  I  had  got — made,  wrung 
out,  dried,  ironed,  marked,  and  folded  as  the  laundry-woman 
folded  all  the  others,  safe  in  your  drawer.  There  was  no  fear, 
if  the  linen  in  the  house  was  examined,  of  the  newness  of 
the  night-gown  betraying  me.  All  your  under-clothing  had 
been  renewed  when  you  came  to  our  house — I  suppose  on 
your  return  home  from  foreign  parts. 

"The  next  thing  was  the  arrival  of  Sergeant  Cuff  and  the 
next  great  surprise  was  the  announcement  of  what  he  thought 
about  the  smear  on  the  door. 

"I  had  believed  you  to  be  guilty,  as  I  have  owned,  more 
because  I  wanted  you  to  be  guilty  than  for  any  other  reason. 
And  now,  the  Sergeant  had  come  round  by  a  totally  different 
way  to  the  same  conclusion  as  mine !  And  I  had  got  the  dress 
that  was  the  only  proof  against  you !  And  not  a  living  crea- 
ture knew  it — yourself  included !  I  am  afraid  to  tell  you 
how  I  felt  when  I  called  these  things  to  mind — you  would 
hate  my  memory  forever  afterward." 

At  that  place  Betteredge  looked  up  from  the  letter. 
"Not  a  glimmer  of  light  so  far,  Mr.  Franklin."  said  the  old 
man,  taking  off  his  heavy  tortoise-shell  spectacles,  and  push- 

-^         ^  '       353 


THE  MOONSTONE 

ing  Rosanna  Spearman's  confession  a  little  away  from  him. 
"Have  you  come  to  any  conclusion,  sir,  in  your  own  mind, 
while  I  have  been  reading?" 

"Finish  the  letter  first,  Betteredge ;  there  may  be  some- 
thing to  enlighten  us  at  the  end  of  it.  I  shall  have  a  word  or 
two  to  say  to  you  after  that." 

"Very  good,  sir.  I'll  just  rest  my  eyes,  and  then  I'll  go  on 
again.  In  the  mean  time,  Mr.  Franklin — I  don't  want  to 
hurry  you — but  would  you  mind  telling  me,  in  one  word, 
whether  you  see  your  way  out  of  this  dreadful  mess  yet?" 

"I  see  my  way  back  to  London,"  I  said;  "to  consult  Mr. 
Brufif.    If  he  can't  help  me — " 

"Yes,  sir?" 

"And  if  the  Sergeant  won't  leave  his  retirement  at  Dork- 
ing-" 

"He  won't,  Mr.  Franklin  !" 

"Then,  Betteredge — as  far  as  I  can  see  now — I  am  at  the 
end  of  my  resources.  After  Mr.  Bruff  and  the  Sergeant,  I 
don't  know  of  a  living  creature  who  can  be  of  the  slightest 
use  to  me." 

As  the  words  passed  my  lips  some  person  outside  knocked 
at  the  door  of  the  room. 

Betteredge  looked  surprised  as  well  as  annoyed  by  the  in- 
terruption. 

"Come  in,"  he  called  out  irritably,  "whoever  you  are !" 

The  door  opened,  and  there  entered  to  us,  quietly,  the 
most  remarkable-looking  man  I  had  ever  seen.  Judging  him 
by  his  figure  and  his  movements,  he  was  still  young.  Judging 
him  by  his  face,  and  comparing  him  with  Betteredge,  he 
looked  the  elder  of  the  two.  His  complexion  was  of  a  gypsy 
darkness :  his  fleshless  cheeks  had  fallen  into  deep  hollows, 
over  which  the  bone  projected  like  a  pent-house.  His  nose 
presented  the  fine  shape  and  modeling  so  often  found  among 
the  ancient  people  of  the  East,  so  seldom  visible  among  the 
newer  races  of  the  West.  His  forehead  rose  high  and  straight 
from  the  brow.  His  marks  and  wrinkles  were  innumerable. 
From  this  strange  face  eyes,  stranger  still,  of  the  softest  brown 
— eyes  dreamy  and  mournful,  and  deeply  sunk  in  their  orbits 
— looked  out  at  you,  and,  in  my  case,  at  least,  took  your  atten- 
tion captive  at  their  will.     Add  to  this  a  quantity  of  thick 

354 


THE  MOONSTONE 

closely-curling  hair,  which,  by  some  freak  of  Nature,  had 
lost  its  color  in  the  most  startlingly  partial  and  capricious 
manner.  Over  the  top  of  his  head  it  was  still  of  the  deep 
black  which  was  its  natural  color.  Round  the  sides  of  his 
head — without  the  slightest  gradation  of  gray  to  break  the 
force  of  the  extraordinary  contrast — it  had  turned  completely 
white.  The  line  between  the  two  colors  preserved  no  sort  of 
regularity.  At  one  place,  the  white  hair  ran  up  into  the  black ; 
at  another,  the  black  hair  ran  down  into  the  white.  I  looked 
at  the  man  with  a  curiosity  which,  I  am  ashamed  to  say,  I 
found  it  quite  impossible  to  control.  His  soft  brown  eyes 
looked  back  at  me  gently ;  and  he  met  my  involuntary  rude- 
ness in  staring  at  him,  with  an  apology  which  I  was  conscious 
that  I  had  not  deserved. 

*T  beg  your  pardon,"  he  said.  "I  had  no  idea  that  Mr. 
Betteredge  was  engaged."  He  took  a  slip  of  paper  from  his 
pocket,  and  handed  it  to  Betteredge.  "The  list  for  next 
week,"  he  said.  His  eyes  just  rested  on  me  again — and  he 
left  the  room  as  quietly  as  he  had  entered  it. 

"Who  is  that?"  I  asked. 

"Mr.  Candy's  assistant,"  said  Betteredge.  "By-the-bye, 
Mr.  Franklin,  you  v/ill  be  sorry  to  hear  that  the  little  doctor 
has  never  recovered  that  illness  he  caught,  going  home  from 
the  birthday  dinner.  He's  pretty  well  in  health ;  but  he  lost 
his  memory  in  the  fever,  and  he  has  never  recovered  more 
than  the  wreck  of  it  since.  The  work  all  falls  on  his  assistant. 
Not  much  of  it  now,  except  among  the  poor.  They  can't  help 
themselves,  you  know.  TJicy  must  put  up  with  the  man  with 
the  piebald  hair  and  the  gypsy  complexion,  or  they  would  get 
no  doctoring  at  all." 

"You  don't  seem  to  like  him,  Betteredge?" 

"Nobody  likes  him,  sir." 

"Why  is  he  so  unpopular?" 

"Well,  Mr.  Franklin,  his  appearance  is  against  him,  to  be- 
gin with.  And  then  there's  a  story  that  Mr.  Candy  took  him 
with  a  very  doubtful  character.  Nobody  knows  who  he  is — 
and  he  hasn't  a  friend  in  the  place.  How  can  you  expect  one 
to  like  him  after  that?" 

"Quite  impossible,  of  course !  May  I  ask  what  he  wanted 
with  you  when  he  gave  you  that  bit  of  paper?" 

355 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"Only  to  bring  me  the  weekly  list  of  the  sick  people  about 
here,  sir,  who  stand  in  need  of  a  little  wine.  My  lady  always 
had  a  regular  distribution  of  good  sound  port  and  sherry 
among  the  infirm  poor;  and  Miss  Rachel  wishes  the  custom 
to  be  kept  up.  Times  have  changed ;  times  have  changed ! 
I  remember  when  Mr.  Candy  himself  brought  the  list  to  my 
mistress.  Now  it's  Mr.  Candy's  assistant  who  brings  the  list 
to  me.  I'll  go  on  with  the  letter,  if  you  will  allow  me,  sir," 
said  Betteredge,  drawing  Rosanna  Spearman's  confession 
back  to  him.  "It  isn't  lively  reading,  I  grant  you.  But,  there ! 
it  keeps  me  from  getting  sour  with  thinking  of  the  past." 
He  put  on  his  spectacles,  and  wagged  his  head  gloomily. 
"There's  a  bottom  of  good  sense,  Mr.  Frankhn,  in  our  con- 
duct to  our  mothers,  when  they  first  start  us  on  the  journey  of 
life.  We  are  all  of  us  more  or  less  unwilling  to  be  brought 
into  the  world.     And  we  are  all  of  us  right." 

Mr.  Candy's  assistant  had  produced  too  strong  an  impres- 
sion on  me  to  be  immediately  dismissed  from  my  thoughts. 
I  passed  over  the  last  unanswerable  utterance  of  the  Better- 
edge  philosophy,  and  returned  to  the  subject  of  the  man  with 
the  piebald  hair, 

"What  is  his  name?"  I  asked. 

"As  ugly  a  name  as  need  be,"  Betteredge  answered,  gruffly. 
"Ezra  Jennings." 


CHAPTER  V. 


HAVING  told  me  the  name  of  Mr.  Candy's  assistant,  Bet- 
teredge appeared  to  think  that  we  had  wasted  enough 
of  our  time  on  an  insignificant  subject.  He  resumed  the 
perusal  of  Rosanna  Spearman's  letter. 

On  my  side,  I  sat  at  the  window,  waiting  until  he  had  done. 
Little  by  little,  the  impression  produced  on  me  by  Ezra  Jen- 
nings— it  seemed  perfectly  unaccountable,  in  such  a  situation 
as  mine,  that  any  human  being  should  have  produced  an 
impression  on  me  at  all ! — faded  from  my  mind.  My  thoughts 
flowed  back  into  their  former  channel.  Once  more,  I  forced 
myself  to  look  my  own  incredible  position  resolutely  in  the 
face.     Once  more,  I  reviewed  in  my  own  mind  the  course 

356 


THE  MOONSTONE 

which  I  had  at  last  summoned  composure  enough  to  plan  out 
for  the  future. 

To  go  back  to  London  that  day ;  to  put  the  whole  case  be- 
fore Mr.  Bruff;  and,  last  and  most  important,  to  obtain  (no 
matter  by  what  means  or  at  what  sacrifice)  a  personal  inter- 
view with  Rachel — this  was  my  plan  of  action,  so  far  as  I 
was  capable  of  forming  it  at  the  time.  There  was  more  than 
an  hour  still  to  spare  before  the  train  started.  And  there  was 
the  bare  chance  that  Betteredge  might  discover  something  in 
the  unread  portion  of  Rosanna  Spearman's  letter,  which  it 
might  be  useful  for  me  to  know  before  I  left  the  house  in 
which  the  Diamond  had  been  lost.  For  that  chance  I  was 
now  waiting. 

The  letter  ended  in  these  terms : 

"You  have  no  need  to  be  angry,  Mr.  Franklin,  even  if  I 
did  feel  some  little  triumph  at  knowing  that  I  held  all  your 
prospects  in  life  in  my  own  hands.  Anxieties  and  fears  soon 
came  back  to  me.  With  the  view  Sergeant  Cuff  took  of  the 
loss  of  the  Diamond,  he  would  be  sure  to  end  in  examining 
our  linen  and  our  dresses.  There  was  no  place  in  my  room 
— there  was  no  place  in  the  house — which  I  could  feel  satis- 
fied would  be  safe  from  him.  How  to  hide  the  night-gown 
so  that  not  even  the  Sergeant  could  find  it?  and  how  to  do 
that  without  losing  one  moment  of  precious  time? — these 
were  not  easy  questions  to  answer.  My  uncertainties  ended 
in  my  taking  a  way  that  may  make  you  laugh.  I  undressed, 
and  put  the  night-gown  on  me.  You  had  worn  it — and  I 
had  another  little  moment  of  pleasure  in  wearing  it  after  you. 

"The  next  news  that  reached  us  in  the  servants'  hall  showed 
that  I  had  not  made  sure  of  the  night-gown  a  moment  too 
soon.     Sergeant  Cuff  wanted  to  see  the  washing-book. 

"I  found  it,  and  took  it  to  him  in  my  lady's  sitting-room. 
The  Sergeant  and  I  had  come  across  each  other  more  than 
once  in  former  days.  I  was  certain  he  would  know  me  again 
— and  I  was  not  certain  of  what  he  might  do  when  he  found 
me  employed  as  servant  in  a  house  in  which  a  valuable  jewel 
had  been  lost.  In  this  suspense,  I  felt  it  would  be  a  relief 
to  me  to  get  the  meeting  between  us  over,  and  to  know  the 
worst  of  it  at  once. 

357 


THE  MOONSTONE 

"He  looked  at  me  as  if  I  was  a  stranger,  when  I  handed 
him  the  washing-book,  and  he  was  very  specially  polite  in 
thanking  me  for  bringing  it.  I  thought  those  were  both  bad 
signs.  There  was  no  knowing  what  he  might  say  of  me  be- 
hind my  back ;  there  was  no  knowing  how  soon  I  might  not 
find  myself  taken  in  custody  on  suspicion,  and  searched.  It 
was  then  time  for  your  return  from  seeing  Mr.  Godfrey  Able- 
white  off  by  the  railway  and  I  went  to  your  favorite  walk  in 
the  shrubbery,  to  try  for  another  chance  of  speaking  to  you 
— the  last  chance,  for  all  I  knew  to  the  contrary,  that  I  might 
have. 

"You  never  appeared ;  and,  what  was  worse  still,  Mr.  Bet- 
teredge  and  Sergeant  Cuff  passed  by  the  place  where  I  was 
hiding — and  the  Sergeant  saw  me. 

"I  had  no  choice,  after  that,  but  to  return  to  my  proper 
place  and  my  proper  work,  before  more  disasters  happened 
to  me.  Just  as  I  was  going  to  step  across  the  path  you  came 
back  from  the  railway.  You  were  making  straight  for  the 
shrubbery,  when  you  saw  me — I  am  certain,  sir,  you  saw  me 
— and  you  turned  away  as  if  I  had  got  the  plague,  and  went 
into  the  house. ^ 

"I  made  the  best  of  my  way  indoors  again,  returning  by 
the  servants^  entrance.  There  was  nobody  in  the  laundry- 
room  at  that  time;  and  I  sat  down  there  alone.  I  have  told 
you  already  of  the  thoughts  which  the  Shivering  Sand  put 
into  my  head.  Those  thoughts  came  back  to  me  now.  I 
wondered  in  myself  which  it  would  be  hardest  to  do,  if  things 
went  on  in  this  way, — to  bear  Mr.  Franklin  Blake's  indiffer- 
ence to  me,  or  to  jump  into  the  quicksand  and  end  it  forever 
in  that  way? 

"It's  useless  to  ask  me  to  account  for  my  own  conduct  at 
this  time.     I  try — and  I  can't  understand  it  myself. 

"Why  didn't  I  stop  you,  when  you  avoided  me  in  that 
cruel  manner?  Why  didn't  I  call  out,  'Mr.  Franklin,  I  have 
got  something  to  say  to  you ;  it  concerns  yourself,  and  you 

1  Note:  by  Franklin  Blake. — The  writer  is  entirely  mistaken,  poor  crea- 
ture. I  never  noticed  her.  My  intention  was  certainly  to  have  taken  a  turn 
in  the  shrubbery.  But,  remembering  at  the  same  moment  that  my  aunt 
might  wish  to  see  me,  after  my  return  from  the  railway,  I  altered  my  mind, 
and  went  into  the  house. 


THE  MOONSTONE 

must  and  shall  hear  it?'  You  were  at  my  mercy — I  had  got 
the  whip-hand  of  you,  as  they  say.  And  better  than  that,  I 
had  the  means,  if  I  could  only  make  you  trust  me,  of  being 
useful  to  you  in  the  future.  Of  course,  I  never  supposed 
that  you — a  gentleman — had  stolen  the  Diamond  for  the  mere 
pleasure  of  stealing  it.  No.  Penelope  had  heard  Miss  Rachel, 
and  I  had  heard  Mr.  Betteredge,  talk  about  your  extrava- 
gance and  your  debts.  It  was  plain  enough  to  me  that  you 
had  taken  the  Diamond  to  sell  it,  or  pledge  it,  and  so  to  get 
the  money  of  which  you  stood  in  need.  Well !  I  could  have 
told  you  of  a  man  in  London  who  would  have  advanced  a 
good  large  sum  on  the  jewel,  and  who  would  have  asked  no 
awkward  questions  about  it  either. 
^    "Why  didn't  I  speak  to  you !  why  didn't  I  speak  to  you ! 

"I  wonder  whether  the  risks  and  difficulties  of  keeping  the 
night-gown  were  as  much  as  I  could  manage,  without  having 
other  risks  and  difficulties  added  to  them?  This  might  have 
been  the  case  with  some  women — but  how  could  it  be  the  case 
with  me?  In  the  days  when  I  was  a  thief,  I  had  run  fifty 
times  greater  risks,  and  found  my  way  out  of  difficulties  to 
which  this  difficulty  was  mere  child's  play.  I  had  been  ap- 
prenticed, as  you  may  say,  to  frauds  and  deceptions — some 
of  them  on  such  a  grand  scale,  and  managed  so  cleverly,  that 
they  became  famous,  and  appeared  in  the  newspapers.  Was 
such  a  little  thing  as  the  keeping  of  the  night-gown  likely  to 
weigh  on  my  spirits,  and  to  set  my  heart  sinking  within  me, 
at  the  time  when  I  ought  to  have  spoken  to  you?  What 
nonsense  to  ask  the  question !  the  thing  couldn't  be. 

"Where  is  the  vise  of  my  dwelling  in  this  way  on  my  own 
folly  ?  The  plain  truth  is  plain  enough,  surely  ?  Behind  your 
back,  I  loved  you  with  all  my  heart  and  soul.  Before  your 
face — there's  no  denying  it — I  was  frightened  of  you ;  fright- 
ened of  making  you  angry  with  me ;  frightened  of  what 
vou  might  say  to  me,  though  you  Jiad  taken  the  Diamond, 
if  I  presumed  to  tell  you  that  I  had  found  it  out.  I  had 
gone  as  near  to  it  as  I  dared  when  I  spoke  to  you  in  the 
library.  You  had  not  turned  your  back  on  me  then.  You 
had  not  started  away  from  me  as  if  I  had  got  the  plague.  I 
tried  to  provoke  myself  into  feeling  angry  with  you,  and  to 
rouse  up  my  courage  in  that  way.     No !  I  couldn't  feel  any 

359 


THE  MOONSTONE 

thing  but  the  misery  and  the  mortification  of  it.  'You're  a 
plain  girl ;  you  have  got  a  crooked  shoulder ;  you're  only  a 
house-maid — what  do  you  mean  by  attempting  to  speak  to 
me  ?'  You  never  uttered  a  word  of  that,  Mr.  FrankUn ;  but 
you  said  it  all  to  me,  nevertheless !  Is  such  madness  as  this 
to  be  accounted  for?  No.  There  is  nothing  to  be  done  but 
to  confess  it,  and  let  it  be. 

"I  ask  your  pardon,  once  more,  for  this  wandering  of  my 
pen.  There  is  no  fear  of  its  happening  again.  I  am  close  at 
the  end  now. 

"The  first  person  who  disturbed  me  by  coming  into  the 
empty  room  was  Penelope.  She  had  found  out  my  secret 
long  since,  and  she  had  done  her  best  to  bring  me  to  my 
senses — and  done  it  kindly  too. 

"  'Ah !'  she  said,  'I  know  why  you're  sitting  here  and  fret- 
ting, all  by  yourself.  The  best  thing  that  can  happen  for  your 
advantage,  Rosanna,  will  be  for  Mr.  Franklin's  visit  here  to 
come  to  an  end.  It's  my  belief  that  it  won't  be  long  now 
before  he  leaves  the  house.' 

"In  all  my  thoughts  of  you  I  had  never  thought  of  your 
going  away.  I  couldn't  speak  to  Penelope.  I  could  only 
look  at  her. 

"  'I've  just  left  Miss  Rachel,'  Penelope  went  on.  'And  a 
hard  matter  I  have  had  of  it  to  put  up  with  her  temper.  She 
says  the  house  is  unbearable  to  her  with  the  police  in  it ; 
and  she's  determined  to  speak  to  my  lady  this  evening,  and 
to  go  to  her  Aunt  Ablewhite  to-morrow.  If  she  does  that, 
Mr.  Franklin  will  be  the  next  to  find  a  reason  for  going  away, 
you  may  depend  on  it !' 

"I  recovered  the  use  of  my  tongue  at  that.  'Do  you  mean 
to  say  Mr.  Franklin  will  go  with  her?'  I  asked. 

"  'Only  too  gladly,  if  she  would  let  him ;  but  she  won't. 
He  has  been  made  to  feel  her  temper ;  he  is  in  her  black  books 
too — and  that  after  having  done  all  he  can  to  help  her,  poor 
fellow !  No,  no !  If  they  don't  make  it  up  before  to-morrow, 
you  will  see  Miss  Rachel  go  one  way,  and  Mr.  Franklin 
another.  Where  he  may  betake  himself  to  I  can't  say.  But 
he  will  never  stay  here,  Rosanna,  after  Miss  Rachel  has 
left  us.' 

"I  managed  to  master  the  despair  I  felt  at  the  prospect  of 

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your  going  away.  To  own  the  truth,  I  saw  a  Httle  glimpse 
of  hope  for  myself  if  there  was  really  a  serious  disagreement 
between  Miss  Rachel  and  you.  'Do  you  know,'  I  asked,  'what 
the  quarrel  is  between  them  ?' 

"  'It's  all  on  Miss  Rachel's  side,'  Penelope  said.  'And,  for 
any  thing  I  know  to  the  contrary,  it's  all  Miss  Rachel's  temper 
and  nothing  else.  I  am  loath  to  distress  you,  Rosanna ;  but 
don't  run  away  with  the  notion  that  Mr.  Franklin  is  ever 
likely  to  quarrel  with  her.  He's  a  great  deal  too  fond  of  her 
for  that !' 

"She  had  only  just  spoken  those  cruel  words  when  there 
came  a  call  to  us  from  Mr.  Betteredge.  All  the  indoor  ser- 
vants were  to  assemble  in  the  hall.  And  then  we  were  to  go 
in,  one  by  one,  and  be  questioned  in  Mr.  Bcttcredge's  room 
by  Sergeant  Cufif. 

"It  came  to  my  turn  to  go  in,  after  her  ladyship's  maid 
and  the  upper  house-maid  had  been  questioned  first.  Ser- 
geant Cuff's  inquiries — though  he  wrapped  them  up  very  cun- 
ningly— soon  showed  me  that  those  two  women,  the  bitterest 
enemies  I  had  in  the  house,  had  made  their  discoveries  out- 
side my  door,  on  the  Thursday  afternoon,  and  again  on  the 
Thursday  night.  They  had  told  the  Sergeant  enough  to  open 
his  eyes  to  some  part  of  the  truth.  He  rightly  believed  me 
to  have  made  a  new  night-gown  secretly,  but  he  wrongly 
believed  the  paint-stained  night-gown  to  be  mine.  I  felt 
satisfied  of  another  thing,  from  what  he  said,  which  it  puzzled 
me  to  understand.  He  suspected  me,  of  course,  of  being 
concerned  in  the  disappearance  of  the  Diamond.  But,  at  the 
same  time,  he  let  me  see — purposely,  as  I  thought — that  he 
did  not  consider  me  as  the  person  chiefly  answerable  for  the 
loss  of  the  jewel.  He  appeared  to  think  that  I  had  been  act- 
ing under  the  direction  of  somebody  else.  Who  that  person 
might  be,  I  couldn't  guess  then,  and  can't  guess  now. 

"In  this  uncertainty,  one  thing  was  plain — that  Sergeant 
Cuff  was  miles  away  from  knowing  the  whole  truth.  You 
were  safe  as  long  as  the  night-gown  was  safe — and  not  a 
moment  longer. 

"I  quite  despair  of  making  you  understand  the  distress  and 
terror  which  pressed  upon  me  now.  It  was  impossible  for 
me  to  risk  wearing  your  night-gown  any  longer.     I  might 

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find  myself  taken  off,  at  a  moment's  notice,  to  the  police  court 
at  Frizinghall,  to  be  charged  on  suspicion  and  searched  ac- 
cordingly. While  Sergeant  Cuff  still  left  me  free,  I  had  to 
choose — and  that  at  once — between  destroying  the  night- 
gown, or  hiding  it  in  some  safe  place,  at  some  safe  distance 
from  the  house. 

"If  I  had  only  been  a  little  less  fond  of  you,  I  think  I  should 
have  destroyed  it.  But,  oh !  how  could  I  destroy  the  only 
thing  I  had  which  proved  that  I  had  saved  you  from  dis- 
covery? If  we  did  come  to  an  explanation  together  and  if 
you  suspected  me  of  having  some  bad  motive  and  denied  it 
all,  how  could  I  win  upon  you  to  trust  me,  unless  I  had  the 
night-gown  to  produce?  Was  it  wronging  you  to  believe, 
as  I  did  and  do  still,  that  you  might  hesitate  to  let  a  poor  girl 
like  me  be  the  sharer  of  your  secret,  and  your  accomplice  in 
the  theft  which  your  money-troubles  had  tempted  you  to 
commit?  Think  of  your  cold  behavior  to  me,  sir,  and  you 
will  hardly  wonder  at  my  unwillingness  to  destroy  the  only 
claim  on  your  confidence  and  your  gratitude  which  it  was  my 
fortune  to  possess. 

"1  determined  to  hide  it ;  and  the  place  I  fixed  on  was  the 
place  I  knew  best — the  Shivering  Sand. 

"As  soon  as  the  questioning  was  over  I  made  the  first  ex- 
cuse that  came  into  my  head,  and  got  leave  to  go  out  for  a 
breath  of  fresh  air.  I  went  straight  to  Cobb's  Hole,  to  Mr. 
Yolland's  cottage.  His  wife  and  daughter  were  the  best 
friends  I  had.  Don't  suppose  I  trusted  them  with  your 
secret — I  have  trusted  nobody.  All  I  wanted  was  to 
write  this  letter  to  you,  and  to  have  a  safe  opportunity  of 
taking  the  night-gown  off  me.  Suspected  as  I  was,  I  could 
do  neither  of  those  things,  with  any  sort  of  security,  up  at 
the  house. 

"And  now  I  have  nearly  got  through  my  long  letter,  writ- 
ing it  alone  in  Lucy  Yolland's  bedroom.  When  it  is  done,  I 
shall  go  down  stairs  with  the  night-gown  rolled  up,  and  hid- 
den under  my  cloak.  I  shall  find  the  means  I  want  for  keep- 
ing it  safe  and  dry  in  its  hiding-place,  among  the  litter  of 
old  things  in  Mrs.  Yolland's  kitchen.  And  then  I  shall  go 
to  the  Shivering  Sand — don't  be  afraid  of  my  letting  my  foot- 
marks betray  me ! — and  hide  the  night-gown  down  in  the 

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sand,  where  no  living  creature  can  find  it  without  being  first 
let  into  the  secret  by  myself. 

"And  when  that  is  done,  what  then? 

"Then,  Mr.  Franklin,  I  shall  have  two  reasons  for  making 
another  attempt  to  say  the  words  to  you  which  I  have  not 
said  yet.  If  you  leave  the  house,  as  Penelope  believes  you 
will  leave  it  and  if  I  haven't  spoken  to  you  before  that,  I 
shall  lose  my  opportunity  forever.  That  is  oj:ie  reason.  Then, 
again,  there  is  the  comforting  knowledge — if  my  speaking 
does  make  you  angry — that  I  have  got  the  night-gown  ready 
to  plead  my  cause  for  me  as  nothing  else  can.  That  is  my 
other  reason.  If  these  two  together  don't  harden  my  heart 
against  the  coldness  which  has  hitherto  frozen  it  up,  I  mean 
the  coldness  of  your  treatment  of  me,  there  will  be  the  end 
of  my  efforts — and  the  end  of  my  life. 

"Yes ;  if  I  miss  my  next  opportunity — if  you  are  as  cruel 
as  ever,  and  if  I  feel  it  again  as  I  have  felt  it  already — good- 
bye to  the  world  which  has  grudged  me  the  happiness  that 
it  gives  to  others.  Good-bye  to  life,  which  nothing  but  a  little 
kindness  from  yoii  can  ever  make  pleasurable  to  me  again. 
Don't  blame  yourself,  sir,  if  it  ends  in  this  way.  But  try — 
do  try — to  feel  some  forgiving  sorrow  for  me !  I  shall  take 
care  that  you  find  out  what  I  have  done  for  y